31/03/2010

Second UUP Resignation Shock

A second Ulster Unionist has resigned from the party over its electoral link-up with the Conservatives.

Alan McFarland, an MLA for North Down, (pictured) quit last night citing the "detrimental" pact for his decision.

Last week the UUP's sole Westminster MP, Lady Hermon, ended months of speculation by leaving the party and announcing intentions to contest her Parliamentary seat at the forthcoming general election as an Independent candidate. She had earlier made it clear she would not stand under a joint UUP and Tory banner.

Sir Reg Empey, the UUP leader, agreed on a voting alliance with Conservative leader David Cameron in 2008.

A UUP spokesman last night expressed "disappointment" at Mr McFarland's resignation, but said it was not "unexpected".
News Image
In a statement disclosing his exit from the party, Mr McFarland described the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force (UCUNF) deal as "detrimental" to unionist interests in Northern Ireland.

He will now sit as an Independent MLA in the Assembly, after serving as a UUP representative for 12 year.

"With the recent confirmation of candidates, including the imposition of a Conservative candidate in my own North Down constituency, it is clear that the party is determined to continue down the Conservative road," Mr McFarland said in a statement.

"I do not wish to join them. I am sorry to leave a party that contains many good friends, and greatly regret that events have developed in the way they have."

Mr McFarland is expected to participate in Lady Hermon's general election campaign.

(PR/BMcC)

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