Northern Ireland

Former mayor of Derry and Strabane quits DUP

Graham Warke
Graham Warke

The former mayor of Derry and Strabane District Council has left the DUP saying he wishes "to move forward with a new political pathway".

Alderman Graham Warke served as mayor and has just been replaced by Sinn Féin's Sandra Duffy.

Mr Warke was co-opted on to the council in 2015. He said that his decision to leave the party came following a year of reflecting on his career and priorities.

In a statement Mr Warke said: "“I am committed to move this city and district forward into a more progressive and united future – one that embraces the needs of all the people who live and work here."

“I firmly believe that if Derry-Londonderry Strabane is to prosper then it can only do so if we all work together ... If we are to succeed in bringing prosperity, jobs, and investment here then we need all our politicians to come together to work hard with real determination and courage on all sides.”

Former party colleague Sammy Wilson said: “We’re always sorry to see someone leave but the real reasons behind his departure, I’m not aware of because I’ve never spoken to him, so I don’t know what his gripe with the party is."

“All I can say is that I think if anyone looks at the issues we seek to deal with and the way we’ve tried to take Northern Ireland forward, his aims are our aims,” Mr Wilson told the BBC.

The ex-DUP politician confirmed that he will continue to represent his constituents following a period of leave.

"I have been talking to people at the grassroots who are supportive of my decision and who believe, like me, that a moderate, progressive and positive political pathway is best for me and for this city and district," Mr Warke said.

He added: "My decision to leave the DUP and pursue my political career independently was made in close consultation with the electorate, my family, friends and wider community."