UUP MLA David McNarry has declared that he feels “abused” over how he has been treated over revelations about co-operation discussions between the UUP and DUP.
UUP MLA David McNarry has declared that he feels “abused” over how he has been treated over revelations about discussions between the UUP and DUP over potential future co-operation, describing his treatment as akin to being “kicked in the teeth”.
On Friday it emerged that the UUP leader, Tom Elliott, had taken the decision to remove him from his position as vice chair of the Assembly’s education committee, while last Monday, McNarry used the Belfast Telegraph to reveal that top level meetings had taken place between the UUP and DUP over forging closer ties to maximise the unionist vote, with suggestions he had minutes of such meetings to prove his case.
Speaking of the decision to effectively sack McNarry from his job on the education committee, Elliott said yesterday:
“There was no issue with him talking to the DUP – I had him as a liaison with the DUP so there was no issue around that – it was because he went beyond his remit.
“Quite clearly once you see someone talk about the possibility on the future of the DUP holding the first minister position and the Ulster Unionist Party holding the junior minister, that’s way beyond the remit.”
The affair prompted Elliott to write to party members to reassure them over the nature of the talks with the DUP, declaring the party’s aim to do no more than to “explore areas of cooperation for the benefit of unionism in general”. McNarry duly resigned the party whip in the Assembly.
Hitting back at the weekend’s development, however, McNarry has argued that Elliott himself was at the very meetings that looked at greater co-operation between the UUP and DUP.
Speaking to the Newsletter, McNarry declared:
“I took notes in my own handwriting, in the one book. They follow consecutive dates and are just reports of what was taking place. When Tom wasn’t at a meeting I reported to him what had happened.”
Addressing the way he had been treated since his revelations in the Belfast Telegraph became public, he continued:
“I felt abused; I felt that somebody had trespassed over me here and I felt that unless Tom is prepared to tell people what has been happening it makes it very difficult for me because I’ve been protecting him.
“The notebook protects my integrity and at the moment my integrity is under the microscope. If it continues to be under the microscope then I will have to consider where I am.
“I had the utmost respect for everybody who was involved in what was going on.”
And turning his attention to Danny Kennedy, the UUP’s sole minister in the Stormont government – who gave very public support for Elliott’s decisions – McNarry concluded:
“Danny Kennedy and I are unionists from the same oak and I appreciate the public position he has taken. But it is not what we have talked about in private.
“I’ve had support from other MLAs by telephone and text message. I’ve gone for honesty and transparency and I’ve been kicked in the teeth.”
Just a few weeks ago, Left Foot Forward asked what the point of the UUP actually was. This week’s developments will serve only to compound the problem, making all the more difficult Tom Elliott’s efforts to carve out a distinctive identity for his party, eclipsed as they remain by the much larger DUP as the principle force of Unionism in Northern Ireland.
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• What’s the point of the UUP? – Ed Jacobs, January 19th 2012
• Preview 2012 – Northern Ireland – Ed Jacobs, December 30th 2011
• Should Northern Ireland football scrap God Save the Queen? – Ed Jacobs, December 13th 2011
• UUP renew calls for opposition at Stormont – Ed Jacobs, October 25th 2011
• Time for normal politics in Northern Ireland? – Ed Jacobs, May 10th 2011