Following a tempestuous fortnight, the DUP locally has appealed for unity ahead of this summer’s Assembly election.
In a statement yesterday, Tuesday, signed by Gregory Campbell MP, Lord William Hay, Gary Middleton MLA, Aldermen Drew Thompson, Hilary McClintock, David Ramsey and Graham Warke, as well as office manager Niree McMorris, they said it was imperative that the bigger political picture should not be obscured by petty difficulties and appealed for a strong unionist vote to thwart Sinn Fein at the ballot box.
The statement appears in full on Page 4 inside and online at www.londonderrysentinel.co.uk.
In the last week it has also emerged that a significant number of branch members have resigned their membership of the DUP, including former DUP Alderman and cornerstone of the branch, John Henry, who worked alongside Mrs Anna Hay in the early days of the local branch in Londonderry.
Mr Henry spoke of his “disappointment” at the treatment of Maurice Devenney and of the direction and decision making of both the branch and the party overall.
It has been a difficult few weeks for the branch, following the fallout from the suspension and ultimate resignation of former MLA Maurice Devenney, who announced last week that he is to work on as an independent member of Derry City and Strabane District Council after resigning from the party.
Mr Devenney spoke exclusively to the Londonderry Sentinel last week about the reasons behind his decision to reign and said he did so with “a heavy heart”.
The DUP has also had to contend with Lord Hay of Ballyore’s brother-in-law, Bill Irwin, appearing before Londonderry Magistrates Court on Monday, where he pleaded guilty to 23 counts of fraud involving false expense claims for £8,960 worth of heating oil over a five-year period between March 2009 and February 2014.
Mr Irwin is to be sentenced on April 1. (See Page 17).