30/04/2002

Anti-agreement Ulster Unionist defects to DUP

The dissident unionist Peter Weir has formally joined the hard-line Democratic Unionist Party.

Mr Weir, who was elected to the assembly as an Ulster Unionist, was expelled from his party last year for refusing his support in assembly votes.

The announcement of Mr Weir’s defection was made on Monday April 29 during a DUP address to a group of Young Unionists from Queen’s University.

The 33-year-old former barrister also announced his intention to stand as a DUP candidate in the next Assembly elections and called on other anti-Agreement unionists to join him in Ian Paisley’s party.

Mr Weir has had a troubled and often conflicting relationship with the Ulster Unionist Party.

Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Mr Weir had worked with other dissidents within the UUP to reverse its policy of sharing government with Sinn Féin.

He was expelled from the UUP in November 2001 for failing to support, alongside another dissident party member Pauline Armitage, David Trimble's nomination to be re-elected as Northern Ireland first minister.

Both members were accused of conduct detrimental to the interests of Ulster Unionism by ignoring the direct advice of the party's ruling executive and failing to back their party leader as first minister. (AMcE)

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