Farry says Alliance stepping forward while UUP step back

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry has said the UUP’s hasty withdrawal from the Executive smacks of political opportunism rather than any principled position.

The Alliance MLA was speaking following UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt’s decision to recommend his party leave the Executive, a move expected to be ratified by party members this weekend.

Mr Farry said the UUP had made a premature decision and walked away from its responsibilities.

“Alliance has consistently said since the Kevin McGuigan murder that calm was needed from all quarters to prevent Northern Ireland moving deeper into crisis. However, the UUP appears to have used it as an opportunity to move into opposition in the run-up to an Assembly election.

“The party currently sits on the Camp Twaddell committee alongside representatives of loyalist paramilitaries, as well as taking part in the Unionist Forum and announcing a graduated response alongside those same representatives. They also cannot credibly argue they did not know the Provisional IRA did not cease to exist, showing today’s decision is political opportunism rather than anything done out of principle.

“It is clear Northern Ireland politics is in a deep crisis, a crisis that is growing every day. This is not of our making but we will continue to show responsibility and leadership by attempting to find a solution in the best interests of everyone. It is clear the UUP does not have the best interests of everyone at heart, when they had no issue joining pan-unionist groupings which included representatives of loyalist paramilitary organisations.

The effect of the UUP’s actions today will only be to destabilise the process at a time when politicians should be doing all they can to steady things.”

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