Northern Ireland

David McClarty holding back on UUP move

David McClarty
Image caption David McClarty following his election in the East Londonderry constituency

Successful independent candidate David McClarty has refused to be drawn on whether he will rejoin the Ulster Unionist Party.

The UUP are one MLA short of being able to claim two ministries in the new executive.

Alliance, which picked up eight seats in the assembly poll, is entitled to a ministry by right for the first time.

Mr McClarty was previously an Ulster Unionist MLA but left the party after he was de-selected.

He said: "I am elated at having achieved the victory and I will take time to enjoy the experience.

"At this stage I am not about to make any decisions whatsoever and I will take a day or two so that I can recover from the exertions of the campaign."

Responding to UUP leader Tom Elliott's description of Sinn Fein as 'scum' at an election count in Omagh, Mr McClarty said that they were not indicative of the kind of "progressive unionism" he believed in.

In the last assembly, Alliance held the justice portfolio following a cross-community vote procedure introduced in the Hillsborough Agreement.

It has exactly half the total of seats on which the Ulster Unionists finished.

BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said that under the D'Hondt system, the UUP would get one department but when its turn came for a second pick, its seats would have half the value.

"So it's 8 versus 8. At this point the tie breaker is how many first preference votes each party received, with the UUP vote tally also being halved," he said.

"According to this method, Alliance is also ahead, so should take its first ministry before the UUP get a chance for a second."

Alliance leader Ford said using the D'Hondt system was not his preferred option.

He added: "I don't think it's a particularly proportional system. It's not my preferred choice but it's what the constitution says."

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