Northern Ireland

DUP councillor quits after just four months amid claims he faced ‘bullying’

David Clarke has quit the DUP
David Clarke has revealed he has quit the DUP

A DUP councillor, co-opted just four months ago, has quit the party because of “bullying”.

David Clarke (33), who replaced Cheryl Brownlee on Mid and East Antrim borough council, said he was hospitalised with heart palpitations as a result of the stress caused by internal party spats.

He said he intends to continue as an independent councillor after he had “no choice but to act for my own health and well-being” and quit the DUP.

He told BBC NI it came after he raised “serious concerns” with the party, which he believes were not properly addressed and the “stress and strain of all of these issues that I’ve only scratched the surface on, actually caused me to end up in Antrim Area Hospital”.

Mr Clarke said he believed he had earned his council place following an “intensive” interview process with the party’s leadership, but following his co-option was subjected to “bullying”.

He also said he had concerns about the handling of a recruitment process for jobs he unsuccessfully applied for.

The DUP did not respond to the allegations, but a spokesman said they “wished him well”.

Meanwhile, the UUP have said Ryan McCready is to step down from Derry and Strabane district council as he wants to “re-balance his family and work commitments”.

It comes as the army veteran prepares to take on a new role as chair of the Londonderry Port and Harbour Commission.

Mr McCready, who joined the UUP from the DUP in 2021, said it had been “an absolute privilege”.

Ryan McCready is a UUP councillor in Derry
Ryan McCready is to step down as a UUP councillor

“At times it has been difficult and frustrating work, but at the same time exceptionally rewarding,” he said.

“This is particularly true when it leads to transforming someone’s life for the better.

“The long hours, combined with other commitments and future aspirations, have often come at a detriment to family and work-life balance.

“This has informed my priorities going forward as I accept new challenges.”

A UUP Foyle Association spokesperson said a selection process will take place early next week.