Trimble calls emergency meeting of sundered UUP

As the split within the Ulster Unionist party rumbles on, party leader David Trimble has requested an emergency meeting of party officers tomorrow.

Top of the agenda will be the implications of the current impasse imposed by the party’s own ‘rebel’ MPs Martin Smyth, Jeffrey Donaldson, and David Burnside.

Yet since Monday’s decision of the rebel MPs to resign the party whip, claiming that Mr Trimble had failed to endorse his policy on the joint British-Irish declaration, the UUP leader has remained tight-lipped about the future of his party.

Speaking after Monday’s announcement, Mr Trimble hit back, claiming that the actions of the three MPs represented ‘a slap in the face for every delegate to the Ulster Unionist Council’, and called for their resignation.

The UUP leader said: "Having made it clear they don't accept the decisions of the council, that they don't agree with the leadership, that they are attacking everything we have done over the past half dozen years, I would have thought it's fairly clear what they should be doing”.

He added that the positions of party president, Mr Smyth, vice-president Mr Donaldson, and Mr Burnside were ‘wholly untenable’, and have shown ‘only contempt for the UUC delegates’.

However, Mr Trimble went on to say that while the rebel MPs had clearly rejected party democracy, he agreed that the present controversy surrounding his party was "a defining moment not just for the Ulster Unionist party but for unionism as a whole."

A statement issued on Monday by the UUP also attacked the MPs actions, saying: “The agreed aim of the UUP is to bring about a resolution of our historic conflict on a democratic basis. That task is made all the harder when fellow Ulster Unionists fail to uphold democratic decisions”.

The three disaffected MPs were also given a warning this week by fellow party member, representative for Mid-Ulster, Billy Armstrong who claimed that the party faced a “short-term meltdown”.

However, appeals for party unity has apparently done little to detract the rebel MPs from their current position. Earlier in the week they launched a personal attack against their leader, saying: "We must see to it that unionism is never again represented at the negotiating table in a weak and dysfunctional state." Mr Burnside also added that Mr Trimble should resign if his policy on the joint declaration did not change.

They also insisted that they would start discussions with the DUP and former MP, Bob McCartney of the UK Unionist party, about the creation of a “united front” against the terms, particularly decommissioning and devolution, of the government’s declaration, in order to “produce a form of accountable local administration at Stormont which has both unionist and nationalist consent”.

Mr Trimble may have narrowly beaten Mr Donaldson last week in his leadership contest, however, scraping by with 54% of the vote, it remains clear that Mr Trimble’s reputation is almost certainly hanging in the balance.


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

06 December 2018
Other News In Brief
Ulster Unionist Councillor Handed Partial Suspension An Ulster Unionist councillor has been issued with a partial suspension from two of the roles he holds on Belfast City Council. The local government watchdog ruled that Jim Rodgers had breached several parts of the code of conduct that governs councillors.
28 November 2018
Man In Hospital After Crash In Newtownards
A man and woman have been hospitalised in separate incidents on County Down roads this morning, Wednesday 18, as Storm Diana sweeps the region causing treacherous driving conditions. The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service were contacted shortly before 8.20am with reports of a crash between a car and a motorcycle on the Movilla Road, Newtownards.
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.
07 August 2001
UUP dismiss IICD report and peace blueprint
Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble’s response to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) report has been to again reiterate that the IRA must put its arms beyond use and must decommission its weapons.
10 October 2003
Rebel MP's set to retake whip
The Ulster Unionist Party's three rebel MP's are set to retake the party whip next week. Jeffrey Donaldson, David Burnside and the Rev Martin Smyth are said to have discussed the matter privately at a special meeting.
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.
09 December 2002
Trimble fends off Tory ambition speculation
Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble has rebuffed suggestions that he is eyeing up the leadership of the Conservative Party and spoken of his desire to see closer links between the Tories and his party.
12 December 2003
Donaldson UUP position in question
Jeffrey Donaldson's position within the Ulster Unionist Party is likely to be discussed at a meeting of the party's executive on Friday night. It follows comments made by the Lagan Valley MP towards the party leadership in Kilkeel on Thursday.
21 August 2003
UUP again seek legal advice on internal strife
A number of the Ulster Unionist Party’s top figures were meeting today in an effort to finds ways to patch up deep divisions within the party on current policy. It is understood that some of those attending the meeting of members disaffected by party policy were a number of individuals previously loyal to UUP leader David Trimble.
09 May 2005
Hain praises ‘courageous leadership’ of Trimble
New NI Secretary of State, Peter Hain, has praised the “political leadership, courage and vision” of David Trimble following his decision to stand down as Ulster Unionist Party leader.
10 October 2001
Trimble lays down gauntlet at Conservative conference
The Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has attacked Tony Blair’s handling of the Northern Ireland peace process in a speech to the Conservative Party Conference. Addressing the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool on Wednesday October 10, Mr Trimble said the problem was Labour’s reluctance to seize the initiative.
21 September 2004
UUP leader's wife to stand in Lagan Valley
The wife of Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble is set to stand as a UUP candidate for Lagan Valley. Daphne Trimble said she wanted to contest the seat, which is currently held by former UUP stalwart Jeffrey Donaldson, because it was a traditional "Ulster Unionist seat and the people have always been represented by Ulster Unionists".
02 October 2001
Moves to censure Sinn Féin go forward for debate
The Northern Ireland Assembly’s business committee have decided to allow the debate of two separate motions calling for the exclusion of Sinn Féin from devolved government to proceed on Monday. Both motions were tabled on the basis that the IRA have refused to decommission arms and failed to meet agreed timetables to do so.
09 November 2017
Green Party Rep Targeted With Homophobic Abuse
A Green Party representative has claimed he was recently targeted with homophobic harassment. North Belfast Green Party representative Malachai O'Hara said he was verbally abused on his way to work on Wednesday morning, 08 November. He said: "As I was heading to work, I was the victim of homophobic harassment.
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.