Doug Beattie MC MLA
Upper Bann MLA, Doug Beattie, is to stand for the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party.
Since outgoing leader, Steve Aiken, announced his decision to stand down, Mr Beattie has been widely tipped to throw his hat in the ring for the job.
And tonight he confirmed what political commentators had been expecting.
“I do so knowing that we, as a party and as a country, face some very real challenges today and in the future,” he said.
“It is not enough to sit back in defence of the Union, it is time to reach out to promote the union and all its benefits. In doing so we can make Northern Ireland a place where people want to live regardless of identity, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
“I want to build a union of people where everyone feels comfortable being who they want to be with a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose. I want to represent a prounion politics that offers a modern, progressive vision for the future of the UK. I want to build a Northern Ireland where everyone is able to enjoy a true peace and its benefits, not just the absence of violence.”
Earlier today Mr Beattie attended a press conference where Mr Aiken spoke about his decision to stand down.
“I know it was not an easy decision for Steve to make but it was made with a moral courage that typifies his service to both his country and party,” Mr Beattie added in his statement.
“I am grateful for his leadership and his friendship and I am glad that he will remain both an MLA and active member of the Ulster Unionist Party.”