DUP councillor Ruth Patterson has said that if she ever left the DUP she would not join another party.
The high profile south Belfast councillor was overlooked by the party this week when it chose an outsider, Peter Robinson’s special adviser Emma Pengelly, to take over from Jimmy Spratt as its South Belfast MLA.
Another high profile local councillor, former Deputy Lord Mayor Christopher Stalford, was also overlooked for the role.
Yesterday, the Belfast Telegraph reported that Cllr Patterson had been removed from two powerful council committees, amid suggestions that she is unhappy in the party.
However, Cllr Patterson told the News Letter that she “had a real chuckle” when told of the report because she had requested that the party take her off the committees because she is now working full time and did not have the time to attend them.
Cllr Patterson, who remained a public supporter of the Union flag protests long after party colleagues had called for them to end, said: “It is amazing how stories get exaggerated, completely out of proportion. The reason why I came off two committees is as simple as this – I’ve started working again full-time.
“Committee work has to be done and if I remained on committees that I couldn’t get to I wouldn’t be doing my job correctly as an elected representative...it was me who actually asked Brian, our group leader, to look into it because there are a number of other people within our DUP group who don’t work, who are retired from work, and they’re perfectly able to attend meetings during the day.”
When asked whether she is happy in the party and whether she is happy with Ms Pengelly’s co-option, Cllr Patterson laughed and said: “I’d rather not comment on that.
“I wish Emma well in her new post. I’m sure she’ll do a great job but, you know, that’s it.”
When asked if she is likely to move party in the near future, she said: “I’m a very loyal person – always have been, always will be. I’m a one-woman party and if was to leave the DUP at any stage in the distant future, I’m not going anywhere else. That’s the way I’ve always been in everything — in my family, in my work, in everything like that.
“Certainly, if I were to leave the DUP in the distant future for any reason, I’ll not be going anywhere else. But that’s neither here nor there at the minute.”