Ruth Patterson: DUP's return to executive 'shocked me to the core'
A high-profile Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor has said her party's return to the Northern Ireland Executive after the publication of a report on paramilitaries shocked her.
Ruth Patterson said she has major difficulties with the move.
She said: "It has shocked me to the core that my political party has gone back into government with Sinn Féin."
The DUP had hounded former Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble over the same issue in the past, she added.
She also criticised the DUP's recent policy of resigning ministers and then having them re-appointed.
The party had removed all but one of its ministers from the executive before moving them in and out of office after the murder of a former IRA man in August sparked a political crisis.
Ms Patterson told BBC NI's The View programme the policy had been "silly".
But the DUP's Arlene Foster, the current finance minster, who stood in for Peter Robinson when he stepped aside as first minister, has defended her party's rolling resignations.
She said: "I was one of the people that said it was very messy, but, as I said, we did not want to be in that position.
"We found ourselves in that position because of events that happened and we had to react to those events.
"We believe we did take the right way forward - now we are dealing with the big issues in front of us, which are paramilitary issues."
Mrs Foster said the decision to return to government had been the right one after the paramilitary report was made public last week.
She added: "There is criticism when we are out [of the executive] and there is criticism when we are in, but that is just the world we live in relation to politics."
The story of Stormont's crisis
- Stormont's political upheaval was sparked by allegations that Provisional IRA members were involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan Sr
- The row erupted after a senior Sinn Féin member was arrested as part of the inquiry into Mr McGuigan Sr's death. He was later released without charge
- Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson stepped aside and all but one of his DUP ministers resigned
- Finance Minister Arlene Foster was appointed acting first minister
- Mr Robinson returned to his role along with other DUP ministers after the publication of a report on paramilitary groups commissioned by the government
- Read more: How Stormont's crisis unfolded
Prof Jon Tonge, an expert on Northern Ireland politics from the University of Liverpool, said the DUP's decision had puzzled some people.
"I think there is much head-scratching and bewilderment within the DUP as to why they have gone back into the executive on the basis of a report which suggests the Provisional IRA is not only in existence, but bossing Sinn Féin," he said.
"That is not the DUP we once knew."
Peter Gibson is one unionist voter who has been swayed to change his vote because of recent events.
His father John was shot dead by the IRA in October 1993.
In 1998, he voted against the Good Friday Agreement and since then has backed the DUP, but he said he will not vote DUP again.
"After recent news, the publication of the report into paramilitary gangs last week not a chance," he said.
"[Now] they have broken every promise they have made."
Ms Patterson has recently put herself at odds with the party leadership after she was overlooked for an assembly seat in South Belfast that was given to former special adviser Emma Pengelly.
Mrs Pengelly has now become a junior minister in the Office of the First and deputy First Minister.
The Belfast councillor told the BBC she was considering her future in the party.
Stephen Walker's full report was broadcast on The View on BBC One Northern Ireland on Thursday 29 October.