Mike Nesbitt has said Maurice Devenney’s claim that ‘unresolved issues’ were behind his decision not to join the UUP were ‘news to me’.
The former DUP MLA announced earlier today that he was now not joining the Ulster Unionists and would instead continue his career in politics as an independent.
Mr Devenney claimed there were a “number of issues that I felt we could not find agreement on” in terms of himself and the UUP.
However, Mr Nesbitt, who revealed that he originally met Mr Devenney at his request, is in the dark about what these issues are.
Mr Nesbitt said tonight: “I met Maurice Devenney at his request some weeks ago. At that time, he was clear in what he wanted. When we met again on Saturday, I sensed he was less sure. I note he makes reference to a number of unresolved issues but that is news to me.”
Mr Devenney’s statemetn said: “Further to reports emanating from the media within the past few days, I would like to clarify the situation regarding myself going forward,” he said today.
“I confirm that I did have discussions with the Ulster Unionist Party in terms of joining the party, and I have to say I was well received.
“I respect the party for approaching me in the terms in which they did.
“Over the weekend further discussions ensued, as a result of those discussions there were a number of issues that I felt we could not find agreement on.
“I have now had the opportunity to consult with a number of individuals in the broad Unionist family and, while appreciating the friendly engagement with the UUP, have decided that I will remain as an independent in the local council, going forward.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the officers and members of the Foyle branch of the UUP for their approach and wish them well in the future.
I have been completely overwhelmed by the support that I have received in the form of phone calls, emails and conversations with many individuals of the Unionist persuasion, right across the Foyle constituency and beyond.
“I am determined to serve the people who elected me and work constructively for the cause of Unionism in the future.
“I will be making no further statements at this stage.”