David Ford said: “Alliance Councillors in Castlereagh could not agree to the co-option of a replacement for Iris Robinson after her resignation from the Council, the Assembly and Parliament. In such an unusual set of circumstances, the only way to resolve the matter is for the people of Dundonald and Gilnahirk to choose their new Councillor.
“In most circumstances a co-option is reasonable; for example in the case of death, serious illness or someone having to step down for work reasons. However, this was not one of those circumstances.
“The only comparable case in recent years was when former DUP Councillor Dessie Stewart was disqualified in Coleraine following a conviction for fraud. On that occasion a by-election was held and the people had their say. The result was that Barney Fitzpatrick gained the seat for Alliance.
“Mrs Robinson resigned the seat while under investigation. Co-option was neither logical nor desirable. The seriousness of the situation requires that the people must have their say.”