12/01/2004

Burnside and Smyth resume UUP Whip

David Burnside and the Rev. Martin Smyth have resumed the Westminster Parliamentary Whip, according to the Ulster Unionist Party.

In a statement made of Friday, the party said the two MP's had resumed their Westminster roles "in accordance with the Constitution and Rules of the Ulster Unionist Council".

Mr Burnside, Rev Smyth and former party member, Jeffrey Donaldson resigned the party whip in June claiming party leader David Trimble had failed to enforce party policy on the joint British-Irish declaration.

They claimed Unionism, led by Mr Trimble, had been "represented at the negotiating table in a weak and dysfunctional state".

Friday's announcement is the culmination of months of protest at Mr Trimble's leadership, and followed Mr Donaldson's decision to join rival unionist party, the DUP last week.

The Lagan Valley MP's decision along with two other UUP MLAs to join Ian Paisley's party brings the DUP strength at Stormont to 33, nine more than the UUP. It also makes it the largest Northern Ireland party in Westminster.

(MB)

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