Hermon Absent For Tory/UUP Launch

The Ulster Unionist's sole Westminster MP was conspicuous by her absence at last night's unveiling ceremony of a new UUP and Conservative Party voting pact.

Lady Hermon (pictured) did not attend the event to 'christen' the agreement, which has been officially branded 'Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force'.

The two parties will fight in the next European and general elections together, under the joint name, which will appear on ballot papers.

UUP Leader Sir Reg Empey said he is "delighted" with the pact, which the party chief said would strengthen the "UK family".

"This is something entirely new in NI, something which would allow us to become more fully and demonstrably an equal partner within the UK family."

Sir Reg added: "The UUP believes that the union is a two-way process and we believe that a pan-UK unionist vehicle is the best way of promoting the values of the union."
News Image
The party leader refused to discuss why Lady Hermon was absent from proceedings, despite heavy probing from assembled journalist.

Sir Reg insisted the North Down MP can "speak for herself".

Both parties will remain independent, insisting the move is not a merger.

Plans of the pact first came to light last July. Since then Lady Hermon, who is believed to be opposed to the agreement, has held two meeting with Conservative Leader David Cameron.

Following talks with Mr Cameron earlier this month, Lady Hermon said she intended to meet with other members of the Shadow Cabinet.

Today, Conservative NI Spokesman Owen Paterson said he hoped the UUP MP would eventually give her support to the 'New Force'.

"She's highly respected in North Down," he said.

"David Cameron has made it very clear that we do want more intelligent, well-educated, skilful, professional women politicians and Sylvia scores a lot of points on all those fronts.

"So we hope she thinks it over, and we hope she comes with us," added Mr Paterson.


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

26 October 2009
Lady Hermon Snubs Tories
Lady Sylvia Hermon has said her absence from the Ulster Unionist's annual conference was in protest at the party's voting pact with the Conservatives. The weekend conference attracted high profile Tory figures such as Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague, who spoke of the importance of strengthening the union.
23 February 2010
Hermon UUP Selection Quandary
Ulster Unionists have until this evening to select the party's North Down Westminster candidate, amid continued resistance from incumbent Lady Hermon over a Tory electoral pact. The UUP and Conservative Party have agreed to field joint candidates in every Northern Ireland constituency at this year's General Election.
25 March 2010
MP Hermon Quits UUP
The only Ulster Unionist MP at Westminster has quit the party over its electoral pact with the Tories. Sylvia Hermon today resigned from the UUP and declared she would defend her North Down seat.
13 March 2020
Nine New Covid-19 Cases Identified
Nine new cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in Northern Ireland. Work is underway to establish any contacts the individuals have had. It's unclear as yet whether the cases confirm the beginning of community transmission. A total of 321 people have been tested in recent weeks, of which 29 were positive.
24 February 2010
Unionist Hermon Rejects Tory Ticket
Lady Hermon will not stand as the joint Unionist and Tory candidate for North Down at the next General Election. The announcement came amid reports two UUP members have already positioned themselves for nomination in the constituency.