A DUP councillor employed by an MLA who quit the party has declined to say who voters should back in the Stormont Assembly election.
Wesley Irvine works in the constituency office of North Down MLA Alex Easton, who is seeking re-election in May as an independent unionist.
Mr Easton quit the DUP last year in the wake of the party’s leadership turmoil following the ousting of Arlene Foster.
He resigned on the same day Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was ratified as DUP leader, saying there was no “respect, discipline or decency” within the party during the upheaval.
Mr Irvine, an Ards and North Down councillor who has previously helped Mr Easton during elections, said he has been placed in a “tricky” position.
The councillor declined to say whether he would be supporting Mr Easton or the DUP’s candidates in the constituency during the election campaign.
He told Belfast Live: “I probably won’t be making any comment at this stage on it.
“I suppose who I would be helping and who I wouldn’t be helping, that will become clearer.”
He said that “it’s a wee bit tricky with me working here with Alex in the office and being a DUP councillor”.
Get the latest politics news and analysis in your inbox
Want the biggest political stories sent straight to you?
Each week, our Political Reporter Brendan Hughes pulls together some of the biggest and most important matters from Belfast and Northern Ireland that we think you’d be interested in reading.
From the Northern Ireland Protocol to other thorny issues inside Stormont and exclusive interviews – we’ve got you covered.
Simply sign up to our free newsletter here and we’ll do the rest
He added: “I understand when it comes to an election I have to choose one or another.
“It might cause an issue with the party, it will probably cause an issue, if I’m supporting a candidate who is not a DUP candidate.
“So that’s why I don’t want to make any public comment on it at this time.”
But asked if he would still work for Mr Easton if he was re-elected, the councillor said: “That would be my intention.”
The DUP has been approached for comment.
There had been speculation that Mr Easton was being encouraged to rejoin the party as a candidate in the upcoming election.
However, the MLA confirmed he intends to run as an independent unionist, saying he was “willing to work for all” across North Down.
The difficulties emerge as the DUP faces continuing tensions over Edwin Poots failing to secure the party’s nomination as the South Down candidate.
Party officers selected Diane Forsythe instead of the former DUP leader, who was attempting to switch to the constituency from Lagan Valley.
Mr Poots looks set to challenge the decision at the wider party executive when it meets to ratify all candidate nominations.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said he wants Mr Poots “standing alongside” him in the Lagan Valley constituency at the next Assembly election.
He insisted he “did not encourage or discourage” the Agriculture Minister to put his name forward for selection in South Down.
Parliamentary reports show first speaker only - follow this lnk for the full transcription.
Articles may come from parliamentary reports, various public news feeds and Google News Search. Content is republished here for context. Copyright is respected and remains with the original author at all times. Original Article:https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/dup-man-working-mla-who-23023905