Three weeks ago the DUP were in meltdown, Robinson’s future was uncertain, and the UUP had lots of leverage. Now… the DUP are power brokers, Robinson has preserved his position, and the UUP is bungling its way between pacts with both the Tories and the DUP.
This is serious stuff. How the UUP manages this Schomberg story will help to determine fortunes in May. The UUP must clear up its policy on the pacts:
- The UUP believes in the Tory pact. UCUNF will stand in 18 constituencies. The UUP believes in non-sectarian politics (no carve ups).
- The UUP believes in Unionist unity. The UUP wants to tighten links with the DUP. The UUP believes in maximising unionist representation (carve ups).
Either one or t’other. Not both.
Surely the answer will be contained within a new statement circulating from Sir Reg. It’s reproduced in full below:
“The Ulster Unionist Party was invited in October 2009 by the Orange Order to a meeting with their Grand Master. On behalf of the UUP I accepted the invitation.
Mr Saulters wanted a private and confidential meeting to discuss ‘ways and means of finding co-operation on the way forward.’ I have respected his request for confidentiality. Sadly this was not respected by others.
Despite a conversation and discussion on the issues that Mr Saulters wished to raise, no agreements were reached.
We are often asked to talk about Unionist cooperation where possible and about how best to provide stability for the future of Northern Ireland. However the UUP is very much aware, given past history, that cooperation is not always achievable. Indeed it makes it much more difficult when a significant aim of one of the organisations you are dealing with is to destroy you.
The Ulster Unionist Party will continue to have discussions with organisations on issues that are of benefit to the Union, but we will not be used as an escape route for others who have significant political difficulties.
Let me also reaffirm my commitment to developing our relationship with the Conservative Party. Along with our Conservative colleagues we will do all we can to promote, protect and preserve the Union and bring national politics unto the Northern Ireland agenda. The spectacle of recent days in our political journey at Hillsborough illustrates the need to get back as soon as possible to dealing with the issues that matter to people such as jobs, health and education.”
The statement ought to have been so precise as to make a meeting with Owen Paterson redundant. Does anyone in the UUP think this statement is sufficient?
IMHO – the UUP has failed to kill this story off. Why?