Irish Republican News · March 22, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Pawn stalks for knight in latest UUP intrigue

An apparent `stalking-horse' has emerged in the bid to oust David Trimble from the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party.

East Derry Assembly member David Hoey is challenging Mr Trimble at a meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council in Belfast on Saturday.

Under Ulster Unionist Party rules, the leader must seek the backing of his ruling council every year to stay on.

Mr Hoey announced on Friday that he will challenge.

He also confirmed that if he wins Saturday's vote, he would immediately step aside to enable candidates for a new leadership team uniting the party to put their names forward.

That could pave the way for party veteran Sir Reg Empey to put his name forward for the leadership.

In recent weeks, Ulster Unionist MP David Burnside and former leader Lord Molyneaux have called for a new leadership team.

Mr Burnside said yesterday he would support Mr Hoey's challenge because it was a vote ``to instigate change and try to get a united leadership for unionism''.

Supporters of Mr Trimble attacked Mr Hoey's challenge.

Fellow East Derry Assembly member David McClarty accused Mr Hoey of being ``a pawn'' for others who were afraid to take on Mr Trimble directly in a leadership battle.

Former Executive Minister Michael McGimpsey also denounced the move, claiming it was masking an attempt to reverse party policy.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News