No DUP/UUP Merger Says Empey

Ulster Unionist Leader Sir Reg Empey has quashed reports his party is set to merge with the DUP.

Sir Reg said the UUP remains 100% committed to its electoral pact with the UK Tories.

At an Ulster Unionist Executive meeting last night, the party rejected what it called "bogus unionist unity talks".

Senior UUP members reaffirmed their agreement to field joint unionist and Conservative candidates in every Northern Ireland parliamentary constituency at the next general election.

Last week, the BBC reported secret talks had been held between the DUP, UUP and Orange Lodge late last year.

It is believed a unionist bloc at Stormont was discussed, amid growing fears of a three-way split in the unionist vote.

Should the DUP lose electoral ground to the UUP or hardline Traditional Unionist Voice - led by Jim Allister - Sinn Fein could be returned as the Assembly's largest party, and occupy the office of First Minister.
News Image
A DUP delegation including Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds reportedly met with Sir Reg and the Orange Grand Master Robert Saulters regarding the matter in December.

Last month the two unionist parties held secret London talks facilitated by the Tory shadow NI secretary Owen Paterson.

Two possible Ulster Conservative and Unionist New Force candidates - Sheila Davidson and Peter McCann - withdrew there nominations in protest at what they believed was the UUP siding with a 'tribal' party.

The latest announcement by the UUP Executive could strengthen the resolve of the party's sole Westminster MP.

Maverick parliamentarian Lady Hermon has said she will not stand under a joint Unionist and Conservative banner at the next election.

The popular North Down MP has still to be officially selected to contest her constituency, despite winning the backing of local UUP members.

It is has been suggested Lady Hermon could eventually stand as an independent unionist candidate.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

28 November 2003
Final results in for 2003 NI Assembly election
UPDATE: With all counts declared on Friday evening the clear winners are the Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party who have claimed 10 more seats on the Assembly and Sinn Féin who have won 6 seats.
19 December 2003
Mixed responses to Donaldson's departure
The decision by rebel Ulster Unionist MP Jeffery Donaldson to leave the party has been welcomed by some supporters of UUP leader David Trimble. The hardline anti-Good Friday Agreement MP announced his decision to leave the party along with two other Assembly members, Norah Beare and Arlene Foster who were also elected on an Ulster Unionist ticket.
21 September 2006
UUP member defects to Tories
A senior member of the Ulster Unionist party has defected to the Conservatives, it has today emerged. James Leslie, a former junior minister at the Stormont Assembly, said that local politics had gone “stale” and only the Tories shared his ambitions.
03 January 2007
Former UUP MP dies aged 81
Former Ulster Unionist MP Cecil Walker has died today after suffering a heart attack. The MP for north Belfast between 1983 and 2001, Sir Cecil lost his seat to the DUP's Nigel Dodds. Ulster Unionist Party Leader Sir Reg Empey said: “I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the Walker family at this sad time.
18 October 2001
Midnight withdrawal of UUP ministers
Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble has announced the resignation of the three UUP ministers in the Northern Ireland’s power sharing executive. Mr Trimble made the announcement at Stormont around 4pm on Thursday October 18. He said that resignation letters from all ministers had been lodged and would take effect as of midnight tonight.