Former Irish senator Ian Marshall joins UUP

Ian Marshall from County Armagh has joined the Ulster Unionist Party. Credit: PACEMAKER

A former Irish senator has joined the Ulster Unionist Party. 

Ian Marshall from County Armagh was the first unionist elected to the Irish Seanad as an independent in 2018.  

Mr Marshall is also a farmer and former president of the Ulster Farmers' Union.  He is now expected to run as a UUP candidate in next May's assembly election.

He has been persuaded to join the UUP by the new leader Doug Beattie.

In a statement Ian Marshall said, “After careful thought and consideration and conversations with Doug I have decided to join the Ulster Unionist Party. 

"Having served as an Independent Unionist since 2018 I believe the time is right to be part of a larger collective working together as a strong voice for a union of people in Northern Ireland.

"These challenges will demand strong leadership from people who are comfortable and secure in their identity and who believe in the principle of mutual respect and parity of esteem in an open, inclusive, progressive manner.

“It is essential that we move from identity politics to focus on the things that are a priority for most people such as the economy, jobs, healthcare, housing, and good relationships across this island and between the two islands. 

“I see the Ulster Unionist Party under the leadership of Doug Beattie as the organisation to deliver meaningful change, working in cooperation with all partners to drive a culture where all citizens in Northern Ireland, proud of their history and heritage, can thrive and prosper and truly regard this place as home.”

The UUP leader Doug Beattie has said he is delighted that Ian Marshall has decided to join the party.

“It took real moral courage to be a lone Unionist voice, but he did so because he believed it was the right thing to do. It is that level of commitment that leads me to believe he will be a progressive voice for the future. 

“Ian will now bring his vast experience to the party and in the coming weeks and months I will look to see where he can be deployed best to advance our vision of a Union of People throughout Northern Ireland.”

Ian Marshall's decision to join the UUP follows similar moves by former DUP councillor Ryan McCready.  The Derry City and Strabane councillor announced his decision to quit the DUP after Arlene Foster's leadership ended.  He confirmed he had joined the Ulster Unionists earlier this month.

While former PUP Belfast councillor Julie-Anne Corr-Johnson also confirmed her move to the UUP last month.