IT’S decision time for newly elected Independent MLA David McClarty.
The former Ulster Unionist man says he will take time to consider party leader Tom Elliot’s offer to rejoin the party.
McClarty was contacted by the UUP leader on Sunday evening, after becoming the only Independent candidate to be elected at the polls.
Speaking to the Coleraine Times at the Council election count on Monday, Mr McClarty described his election success as “outstanding”.
“I am now facing a situation where I’m being termed as a kingmaker. This is a situation which has been thrust upon me.”
The Coleraine man had been a UUP MLA for East Londonderry since 1998, but he quit the party earlier this year after he was de-selected.
He said he was ‘ecstatic’ by his election to the Assembly, but he wouldn’t be drawn on whether or not he would rejoin the Ulster Unionist Party.
“After everything that’s happened, it had an effect on not only me, but my family and my close friends, I have been re-elected against all the odds.
“I have to thank the electorate for the faith that they had in me. And, I pledge now to work hard, if not harder that I have in the past.”
Speaking about the offer from his former party, McClarty said: “Tom congratulated me on my victory and expressed his wish that I would return to the party.
“He said he wasn’t going to pressurise me into any decision, nor would I allow myself to be pressurised.
“It’s an important decision, but I have many things to consider, not least the people that gave me their votes in East Londonderry.
“I have to consider every possibility, and I will be looking at everything, at every angle, before I make my decision.
“The decision will be the right decision, it will be made for the right reason - not for the benefit of David McClarty, but for those that elected me.”
McClarty confirmed the deadline for his decision is Thursday, when the D’Hondt system will be applied and ministerial positions appointed.
He now has to weigh up the pros and cons of possibly upsetting voters who backed an independent candidate if he returns to the UUP against the knowledge that he is being tipped as being a potentially powerful figure in a campaign to return the UUP to a more open Unionism in the wake of leader Tom Elliot’s controversial Sinn Fein comments.