Maurice Devenney to run as independent in Foyle assembly election

Maurice Devenney
Image caption Mr Devenney left the DUP earlier this year

The former DUP MLA Maurice Devenney is to stand as an independent unionist candidate for Foyle in the upcoming elections.

On Wednesday, Mr Devenney announced that after much consideration he would run for an Assembly seat on 5 May.

He was suspended from the DUP amid claims he had brought the party into disrepute, an accusation he denied.

Some former colleagues within the party have warned that the move could split the unionist vote.

The DUP's Gary Middleton, who replaced Maurice Devenney as the party's MLA, said they want to maintain a strong unionist voice in the assembly.

"It's not going to be a bitter fight but I think people will judge it on the series of events which have happened over the course of the last 16 months," said Mr Middleton.

"When Maurice was co-opted to the assembly we did try and support him as best we could, writing his speeches and his questions, but unfortunately we couldn't actually sit in the chamber.

"I gave my all and he was a very close friend. We certainly haven't been as close as we have been, he's certainly not an enemy."

'Track record of delivery'

Last month, the Ulster Unionist Party released a statement welcoming Mr Devenney into its fold.

The former MLA said he made the move after some "intense discussion within the broader unionist family".

He was even photographed with the UUP leader Mike Nesbitt but his stay was short lived.

Party leader Mike Nesbitt expressed his surprise when just a few days later "unresolved issues" prevented Maurice Devenney from joining the party.

Mr Devenney has now said that after much consideration he will run as an independent.

"I will be providing an independent voice and offering to continue my lobbying and work on the ground that I already do as a councillor, albeit on a larger scale to a greater number of people.

"I have a track record of delivery which I believe stands the test of time particularly over the last 11 years of continuous service in council."

In 2014, Maurice Devenney was co-opted by the dup to replace former speaker William Hay.

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