Page last updated at 12:02 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 13:02 UK

Sinn Fein councillor stands by resignation

Dessie Ward
Dessie Ward has resigned from Sinn Fein, the party said

Sinn Fein's first councillor in Banbridge said he resigned because he could no longer defend the party's left-wing political position.

The party expressed shock at Dessie Ward's decision and said the move was unexpected.

Councillor Ward said he felt the party "no longer reflects where I stand on the political spectrum".

"I found it very difficult on occasion to defend party positions and policies within the council and on the street."

"In general Sinn Fein would have a left-wing political outlook on social and economic matters and over time, as my political views have developed, within the council and within politics, I felt that Sinn Fein didn't really reflect where I stood on the political spectrum," he said.

Mr Ward narrowly missed out on election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2007 and was seen as a rising star in the party.

Speaking on Monday Sinn Fein chairperson Declan Kearney said he was "shocked" at his resignation.

"Only this morning Dessie was using party offices to carry out constituency work," he said.

"I am extremely disappointed that Dessie did not take the time to come to the party and discuss his problems."

Mr Kearney said Mr Ward should resign his council seat to allow a Sinn Fein member to be co-opted.

Mr Ward joined Sinn Fein aged 20 and had worked as a party press officer. He was elected to Banbridge District Council in 2005 at the age of 24.

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