Northern Ireland

Fred Cobain leaves UUP and joins DUP

Image caption Fred Cobain told a news conference that his former party, the UUP , was "politically exhausted"

The former Ulster Unionist MLA, Fred Cobain, has left the party and joined the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The 66-year-old father of two had been a member of the UUP for more than 30 years.

He was welcomed into the DUP at a news conference at Stormont, attended by party leader, Peter Robinson and DUP deputy leader, Nigel Dodds.

Mr Cobain said the UUP was "riven with personal and policy difficulties" and was "politically exhausted".


"I don't think they have any new ideas or big ideas", he told the news conference.

Mr Cobain said it was not a decision he had taken lightly but added he had been "disillusioned with the party for a number of months".

He is the third, high profile UUP veteran to sever ties with the party since Mike Nesbitt took over as leader last March.

In May 2012, the UUP expelled David McNarry, its assembly member for Strangford.

Mr McNarry later joined the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

In August 2012, Lord Maginnis of Drumglass quit the UUP after he was disciplined for making controversial comments about homosexuality on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan show.

Publicly criticised

Lord Maginnis said he did not regret describing homosexuality as "unnatural and deviant" and claimed the election of Mr Nesbitt as UUP leader had been a "mistake".

Since taking over, Mr Nesbitt has also disciplined two other high profile UUP MLAs - John McCallister and Basil McCrea.

Last month, Mr McCrea lost the party whip when he publicly criticised the UUP's handling of the union flag dispute.

In October, Mr McCallister, was stripped of his position as UUP deputy leader after he made a speech criticising unionist unity.

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