THE United Unionist Coalition party’s representative on Newtownabbey Borough Council, Mr Fraser Agnew, has re-joined the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).
In so doing, he becomes the sixth councillor to join the Ulster Unionists in the past 18 months.
Councillor Agnew has enjoyed a long career in public life. He was first elected to Newtownabbey Borough Council in 1980, was voted in to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1982, and successfully elected again in the Assembly elections in north Belfast in 1998.
In 2007 the long-standing local councillor was awarded the ‘Freedom of the Borough’ of Newtownabbey.
Councillor Agnew said: “With the Sinn Fein/DUP-led Executive going from one crisis to another I have been very impressed with the integrity and vision that Tom Elliot has brought to the leadership of the UUP.
“People are crying out for a strong determined voice and Tom represents the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people sick to the back teeth of politics that promise much, but then fail to deliver. I am delighted to be back in my natural Unionist home.”
Welcoming him back to the growing ranks of the Ulster Unionist Party, UUP South Antrim Association Chairman and fellow Newtownabbey councillor John Scott said: “As a long-term friend and fellow Newtownabbey councillor, I am delighted to welcome Fraser Agnew back into the Ulster Unionist fold.
“Fraser is a former Mayor of the Borough and was recently awarded the Freedom of the Borough - an honour which was awarded in recognition of his long and outstanding service to local people. I know him to be a man of huge integrity and I am delighted with his decision.”
Party leader Tom Elliot said it was a major coup for the UUP to attract a person of Fraser’s standing within the wider community back to the UUP, after a long absence.
“I strongly believe that voters across the province will return, like Fraser, to their natural Ulster Unionist home and I am looking forward to making sure that the UUP becomes the party of choice for all shades of progressive Unionist opinion,” said Mr Elliot.
“We have had 118 new members join the party in the first three weeks of the year and it is that type of enthusiasm which we hope to convert into tens of thousands of extra votes come May. Northern Ireland needs a strong alternative to the Sinn Fein/DUP carve-up and I intend to make sure the UUP provide the leadership required.”
East Antrim UUP Assemblyman Roy Beggs also welcomed the announcement that former MLA Fraser Agnew has re-joined the party.
“I welcome Councillor Fraser Agnew back to the UUP with open arms. He is well respected and well known in the Newtownabbey area and add this to the fact that he was awarded the Freedom of Newtownabbey Borough in 2007,” said Mr Beggs.
“Fraser is yet another elected representative to join the UUP in the last 18 months. I look forward to working with Fraser in the lead up to the Assembly and council elections on May 5.”