A former Democratic Unionist Party councillor has said he did “not take lightly” his decision to join rivals the Ulster Unionist Party.
Ryan McCready, 35, was one of a number of disgruntled members who left the DUP last month over the treatment of former leader Arlene Foster.
He previously served as a Royal Irish soldier, and was elected to Derry City and Strabane District Council in the 2019 local government elections.
Mr McCready said he wants to do “what is best for the future of Northern Ireland”.
“I have spoken at length with Doug (Beattie) and it is more important than ever that unionism has modern, confident and positive leadership,” he said.
“I have not taken this decision lightly, as politics is not the most attractive thing to get involved in for many reasons, but it would be uncharacteristic of me not to answer the call and to put my head above the parapet once again.
“I will continue to work for everyone without prejudice. I will do what is right for the people of Londonderry, challenge the status quo and think differently, strategically and do what is best for the future of Northern Ireland.”
UUP leader Doug Beattie welcomed Mr McCready as an “impressive person and councillor”.
He said his door is “open to anyone who identifies with our brand of unionism”.
“I am absolutely delighted that Ryan has decided to join the Ulster Unionist Party. He shares our vision for an inclusive, progressive, confident unionism and he has all the qualities we need going forward,” he said.
“He is exactly the sort of articulate, forward-thinking person that Northern Ireland needs in the Assembly. He is an impressive person and a superb public representative who has excelled in his career to date.
“My door is always open to anyone who identifies with our brand of unionism.”
The DUP has been rocked by bitter divisions played out in public after successive revolts deposed former leader Arlene Foster and then her successor, Edwin Poots, who quit after just 21 days in the role.
A number of members of the DUP publicly resigned, including councillors Kathryn Owen and Glyn Hanna.
Mr Poots’ demise came only weeks after he narrowly defeated Sir Jeffrey Donaldson in the leadership contest to succeed Mrs Foster.
Sir Jeffrey went on to become the next leader, however his first day in the job was marred by the resignation of North Down MLA Alex Easton who complained there was no “respect, discipline or decency” in the party.
Sir Jeffrey has said he wants to heal the divisions within the party and will reach out to those who resigned.