Kyle: I want to be part of Beattie’s positive, forward-looking unionism

A Belfast councillor who left the PUP over “respectful differences” in opinion about the NI Protocol has joined the Ulster Unionist Party.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 11th February 2022, 7:41 am

Dr John Kyle has served on Belfast City Council since 2007 when he was co-opted following the death of former Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine.

Upon joining the Ulster Unionists led by Doug Beattie, Dr Kyle, who is a GP in east Belfast, said: “I have been impressed with the direction in which Doug has been taking the party with a brand of positive, forward-looking, inclusive unionism. That’s exactly what unionism should be.

“Doug’s vision of a prosperous, respectful and peaceful Northern Ireland in which everyone has a part to play is something that I want to be part of and work towards in the Ulster Unionist Party.”

John Kyle with UUP leader Doug Beattie

In terms of the protocol, Dr Kyle has advocated reforming the arrangements while seeking to maximise the benefits presented by it, such as the unfettered access to both the UK internal market and the EU single market.

Commenting on the protocol he said: “Much more is needed but the momentum is with us and movement is in the right direction. We must also scrutinise the opportunities which the protocol could offer Northern Ireland.”

His former party, the PUP, wants to see the protocol scrapped entirely.

UUP leader Mr Beattie said: “John is an impressive man of the utmost integrity who is respected right across the community and wider society.

“He is a committed unionist who is dedicated to promoting Northern Ireland, its people and its place within the United Kingdom.

“Through the many conversations I have had with him, I know we share the same vision for Northern Ireland and a forward-looking, confident unionism.

“I look forward to working with John in the days ahead. His level-headed approach to politics is refreshing and will be another great addition to the Ulster Unionist team.”

Dr Kyle joining the Ulster Unionist Party means that the party’s numbers on Belfast City Council continue to grow.

He is now the fourth UUP member in the chamber.

East Belfast councillor Carole Howard made the move from Alliance to UUP in early December just before Dr Kyle announced his departure from the PUP.

For a time Sonia Copeland was the only UUP representative on Belfast City Council to hold the party whip.

Long-standing Belfast councillor Jim Rodgers had the party whip removed by then leader Robin Swann over an election leaflet which criticised the Alliance Party before it was restored two years later in May 2021 by then leader Steve Aiken. In 2014 the party had seven councillors on Belfast City Council.

l Morning View, page 16