Ex-DUP MLA Paul Berry in bid to return to Stormont

Cusher Independent candidate Paul Berry gets a congratulatory kiss from wife Lorna on his election in 2014 � Edward Byrne Photography

Cusher Independent candidate Paul Berry gets a congratulatory kiss from wife Lorna on his election in 2014 � Edward Byrne Photography

Former MLA Paul Berry is to stand in next month’s Assembly election in a bid to get back to Stormont – a decade after he quit the DUP.

Mr Berry, now an independent unionist councillor in Armagh, left the party in acrimony in 2006 after allegations in a Sunday newspaper.

The following year he stood for Stormont but his 2,317 votes were far short of the 7,089 quota.

He did not stand in the 2011 Stormont election but is now attempting to win back a seat.

The DUP’s William Irwin succeeded Mr Berry, while the UUP’s Danny Kennedy has a strong vote in the area.

Mr Berry, a critic of the DUP’s entry into power-sharing, said that he would be “a strong alternative to the mainstream political parties and would provide an experienced and determined voice at Stormont”.

The Gospel singer said that he had “the experience and ability to offer the area an independent and strong, alternative voice to challenge the dysfunctional Assembly and to bring greater transparency back to its proceedings”.

Mr Berry said that he had been “deeply humbled by the large number of people who have encouraged me to put my name forward”.

He said there was “growing disillusionment with the current political system at Stormont” and claimed that many people in the area are “concerned that a growing number of elected representatives are becoming increasingly disconnected from their communities and have lost touch with the people who elected them”.

The independent councillor said that “as an independent I would not be constrained by party politics and would be able to act freely in delivering real change for the betterment of this community”.

Mr Berry said he was “opposed to the presence of Sinn Fein in Government whilst the PIRA structures remain in place”.