Former Irish senator Ian Marshall joins UUP

Former Irish senator Ian Marshall joins UUP

UUP leader Doug Beattie has welcomed Ian Marshall as a new recruit to his party (Liam McBurney/PA)

The first unionist elected to the Seanad has joined the UUP.

Former senator Ian Marshall from Co Armagh said he had been persuaded to join a political party for the first time by new Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie.

Mr Marshall, a former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, is now expected to run as a UUP candidate in next May’s Assembly election.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: “I never wanted to join a political party until now. Doug offers a new, revitalised, positive and progressive unionism.

“He approached me several months ago and everything he said chimed with my own beliefs.

“I hope that I can help in reaching out to people who have been turned off by the big egos and loud voices which have for too long tended to dominate unionism.

“A moderate, considerate position is needed now more than ever as Brexit and Covid impact on people’s lives.

“It’s essential that we move on from identity politics to focus on things that are a priority for most people – the economy, jobs, healthcare, housing and building good relationships across this island and between our two islands.”

Mr Marshall told the Belfast Telegraph he had “no problem whatsoever” with an Irish Language Act.

He said: “I had to vote in Irish for two years in the Oireachtas and that presented no difficulties for me. I am strong in my unionism, and the Irish language is no threat to it.”

Handout photo taken from the Twitter account of @MaryLouMcDonald of Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald(centre) with Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly and Ian Marshall when he was elected to the Irish parliament’s upper chamber, the Seanad in 201

The UUP said it was “delighted” to welcome its latest recruit.

“Ian brings a wealth of experience and commitment that leads me to believe he will be a progressive voice for the future,” said party leader Doug Beattie.

Mr Marshall was the first unionist to be elected to the Republic’s upper chamber in 2018, as an independent.

The former Ulster Farmers’ Union president lost his seat in the elections for the Seanad in April of last year.

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