A senior DUP figure has praised party whistleblower Jenny Palmer for her “very valued” contribution to local politics.
Jeffrey Donaldson was speaking after it emerged that Mrs Palmer was to quit the party – along with her husband, fellow Lisburn councillor John Palmer – ahead of disciplinary measures which she was expected to face.
The disciplinary action was related to her role in exposing the Red Sky scandal.
Reacting to the Palmers’ resignations, Lagan Valley MP Mr Donaldson told the Ulster Star: “It is a very sad day for the DUP in Lagan Valley and we have lost two members who have made a very valued and significant contribution to the work of our team in the city of Lisburn.
“From the outset I have sought to support Jenny through what has been a very difficult time for her and I am very disappointed that it has come to this.
“Having been through a resignation situation myself in the past, I can understand how difficult this will have been for both Jenny and John and they are very much in my thoughts and prayers at this time.
“I wish them both well for the future and I look forward to working with them as local representatives for the good of our city.”
The Red Sky scandal rose to public prominence after Mrs Palmer, a former Housing Executive board member, took part in a BBC documentary, during which she claimed that she had come under political pressure to try and extend a public contract with a housing firm.
Last week, a Stormont committee produced its findings into the scandal, which state that the then-social development minister Nelson McCausland had made a politically-motivated effort to extend the contract.
The findings were rejected by the DUP.
However, their publication led to a torrent of criticism for the party from parties ranging from the TUV to Sinn Fein.
Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said the affair had “succeeded in dragging the name of the Housing Executive, Department for Social Development and this Assembly through the mud”.
Speaking in late April, DUP East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said: “I believe that Jenny Palmer was wrong.
“The party is right to discipline her, and should discipline her.”