DUP councillor co-opted to Assembly to replace independent MP Alex Easton

Mr Easton was elected as an MP

By Rebecca Black (PA)

Independent unionist MP Alex Easton has selected a DUP councillor to replace him in the Stormont Assembly.

Mr Easton, a former member of the DUP, has been an independent since resigning from the party in 2021.

He was elected as MP for North Down as an independent backed by both the DUP and the TUV, unseating the Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry at last week’s General Election.

On Wednesday evening the DUP announced that its North Down councillor Peter Martin would be co-opted for Mr Easton’s Assembly seat.

Mr Martin said he will “first and foremost be a voice for North Down and to deliver on the day-to-day issues they face”.

“I want also to be a positive pro-Union voice within the Assembly chamber and demonstrate the benefits we will receive from being part of our United Kingdom,” he said.

DUP leader Gavin Robinson described the result in North Down as “what can be achieved when various strands of unionism come together to maximise pro-Union representation”.

“The DUP not only endorsed Alex Easton as a candidate, but representatives, members and supporters played a part in the successful campaign,” he said.

“Peter is already a hardworking representative in North Down and is someone who won an additional pro-Union seat at the last election.

“He brings experience and enthusiasm to the Assembly and will ensure that the people of North Down continue to have a champion on the Assembly benches working together with colleagues in the constituency.”

Earlier it was announced that Alliance Castlereagh councillor Michelle Guy will take the Lagan Valley Assembly seat vacated following the election of her party colleague Sorcha Eastwood.

Ms Eastwood won the Westminster seat previously held by the DUP’s former leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

On Wednesday the Electoral Office said Ms Guy had been returned to serve as an MLA for Lagan Valley.

Later in the day, it also confirmed that UUP Ballymena councillor Colin Crawford had been returned to replace Robin Swann as an MLA in North Antrim after Mr Swann was elected as MP for South Antrim.

The TUV is expected to announce this week who will be co-opted in North Antrim to replace its leader Jim Allister, who won the Westminster seat in the constituency previously held by Ian Paisley.

The Alliance Party said Ms Guy, 45, will resign from Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council before taking up the position as MLA, following her selection by local Alliance association members.

In a statement, Ms Guy said she was delighted to be selected to serve as an MLA in the constituency where she lives.

“I look forward to getting straight down to work. Sorcha Eastwood leaves huge shoes to fill with her history-making election but I will continue to work closely with her as the new MP, as well as my constituency colleague David Honeyford MLA,” she said.

“I look forward to building on their work and mine as councillor to serve the people of Lagan Valley on the issues that matter to them.”

Alliance leader Naomi Long described Ms Guy as a “dedicated and passionate Alliance elected representative for many years”.

“Alongside David and Sorcha, as well as our local councillors, Michelle will be a key part of our growing Lagan Valley team, who aim to deliver the Alliance vision of a fairer and better community for everyone across the entire community,” she added.

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