UUP must now distance themselves from representatives of loyalist paramilitaries

Alliance Party Spokesperson Cllr Tom Campbell has demanded that the Ulster Unionists use their get out of jail free card to put “clear blue water” between themselves and the PUP. His comments concern reaction following yesterday’s decision by the Speaker of the Assembly, Eileen Bell, to disallow the UUP-PUP link.

Cllr Campbell, a member of Newtownabbey Council, said:

“The Ulster Unionists have unfortunately been given a get out of jail free card; however, they must clarify their position on this matter, as the link has only been disallowed within the Assembly. The Ulster Unionists also still have links to the representatives of armed and active loyalist paramilitaries within Belfast City Council.

The reality is that the association with the PUP has been nothing short of disastrous. The Ulster Unionists may have been seeking a pretext to dump Ervine and his embarrassing associations. For this to have occurred as a result of an unequivocal ruling based on firm legal advice suggests that the misjudgement of the UUP leadership was so fundamental that they even failed to ascertain whether the pact would legally stand up to scrutiny.

“The information on which the link was disallowed by the Speaker – the lack of a common leadership and headquarters – appears so basic that it is surprising that the UUP were prepared to embark on this extremely risky venture which was so vulnerable to legal challenge.

“The Ulster Unionists must clarify now whether they will fully break the connection with the representatives of armed and active paramilitaries.”

“Yesterday was an important day for local democracy in that it was wrong that any democratic party should be reliant on the support of a barely constitutional party, linked as it is with a violent terrorist organisation. The activities of the UVF should have spelt the end for the link between the two parties. For example, the IMC only a few days ago expressed its serious concerns about their activities.

“It is highly regrettable that their PUP link might only end because of a legal ruling and not because the UUP had cause for reflection on what was always a disgraceful connection.

“This link should never have existed in the first place; however, once the deal was done they should to have called it a day after the attempted murder of Mark Haddock in Newtownabbey. The Speaker’s ruling presents the Ulster Unionists the chance to clarify their position and put clear blue water between itself and Ervine.”


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