Northern Ireland

Former MLA Harold McKee quits UUP saying his Christianity is at odds with Doug Beattie's leadership

Councillor Harold McKee has quit the UUP. Picture by Mal McCann
Councillor Harold McKee has quit the UUP. Picture by Mal McCann Councillor Harold McKee has quit the UUP. Picture by Mal McCann

A VETERAN Ulster Unionist has quit the party, claiming Doug Beattie's leadership is at odds with his religious beliefs.

Newry, Mourne and Down District councillor Harold McKee, who in 2016 briefly served as the UUP's South Down MLA, criticised Mr Beattie for advising members to "leave their Christianity at the door".

The Kilkeel-based councillor said he intended to serve as an independent "at this point in time".

He attacked his former party leader over his stance on abortion, same-sex marriage and a recent vote at Stormont on gay conversion therapy.

"In relation to same sex marriage which Mr Beattie is keen to endorse, I cannot go against the infallible word of God that marriage is between one man and one woman," he said.

"I am saddened to observe that these views seem to be of little value in the UUP of today, but rather a stance of celebrating left-of-centre liberalism seems to be the only acceptable viewpoint."

His resignation statement said Mr Beattie's leadership was "a far cry from the UUP roots, which the leader described as being ‘the party of Carson and Craig’".

When Mr Beattie succeeded Steve Aiken as UUP leader earlier this year, he pledged to have a different style that would be "able to reach out to all people in Northern Ireland regardless of what your religion is, sexual orientation or ethnicity".

Mr McKee said it was "becoming very difficult to endorse a leader who is constantly to the fore promoting liberal issues" while conservative values were being squeezed out.

A spokesperson for the party said they were sorry that Mr McKee had decided his political future no longer lay with the UUP.

"We would like to thank Harold for his service and wish him well for the future," the spokesperson said.

"The party will continue to hold out the hand of friendship as Harold takes a new path."