Cllr Alderdice stated: “As Lady Sylvia has stated that she is a staunch defender of the rule of law and is opposed to all forms of paramilitarism, people will fully understand her ‘deep distress’ at this move.
“Her party has become directly linked to a party which continues to act as an apologist for a paramilitary organisation described by the IMC as a ‘greater threat to security than the IRA’. Unbelievably, this has happened apparently without consultation.
“Many people in North Down bear the scars of the fight against paramilitarism in all its forms. Paramilitarism, whatever its sources, is not to be glorified, far less embraced on the grounds of political expediency. Yet that is precisely what the Ulster Unionist leadership is now doing through a move which has been hurtful and offensive to so many in this constituency.
“Lady Sylvia has recognised that her election in North Down was due in large part to a commitment to democracy and the rule of law. The Ulster Unionists’ move has placed a large question mark over that commitment. She and many of her colleagues must now surely consider their future in a party that does not even consult on issues as fundamental as this. Otherwise, they will find it impossible to oppose paramilitarism in all its forms without being hypocritical.”