Northern Ireland

Former councillor and wife quit UUP over Ian Marshall candidate selection in West Tyrone

Former UUP councillor Andy McKane
Former UUP councillor Andy McKane

A FORMER Ulster Unionist councillor has resigned from the party over its selection of former senator Ian Marshall as Stormont election candidate in West Tyrone.

Andy McKane, who previously sat on Derry and Strabane Council and was the local constituency association's preferred candidate, said the party had abandoned its principles in choosing the former Ulster Farmers Union president, who lives in Co Armagh.

Mr McKane's resignation from the UUP, alongside that of his wife Karen, is the latest manifestation of disquiet in West Tyrone over Mr Marshall's selection.

The former councillor criticised the former senator's stance on the protocol.

"No unionist could be so foolish as to think there was anything to be gained for unionism by sitting in an Irish government or selling a protocol that creates an Irish Sea border – to me, that person is not a unionist," he told the Tyrone Constitution.

"That said, the electorate will decide who represents West Tyrone and the election in May will tell the tale."

A statement from the UUP said "every aspiring candidate has to abide by the same processes".

"Andy entered the selection process and was interviewed as part of it. Ian was also interviewed and he emerged as the successful candidate," the statement said.

"Ian Marshall is a positive, confident unionist who is committed to strengthening Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom."