Irish Republican News · December 10, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Paterson linked to new Tory/UUP deal

Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty has called on the British Secretary of State Owen Paterson to come clean on any involvement he had in brokering the latest political deal between the Tories and the UUP.

Earlier this week, UUP leader Tom Elliott caused a surprise by persuading British Prime Minister David Cameron to maintain the Tories’ link with the Ulster Unionist Party.

There was fury and disbelief from Tories in the North and the move led to the resignation of local Tory chairman Irwin Armstrong.

Armstrong accused British Secretary Owen Paterson of going back on promises that it could field candidate in the Assembly elections.

Local Conservatives will only be allowed to stand candidates in next year’s council election, which is on the same day as the assembly poll, if they form alliances with the UUP in council chambers.

Speaking to reporters at Stormont yesterday, Mr Elliott said he was unaware of any pledges made by Mr Paterson to his Conservative colleagues in the North, and he denied that the situation had been badly handled.

“Not as far as I am concerned,” he said. “This is work in progress for us.”

A clearly delighted Mr Elliott said that he had made clear during the UUP leadership contest that he wanted to keep a link with the Conservatives. The new arrangement is more similar to that which existed between the parties until 1974 than the notorious UCUNF alliance which failed to secure a single seat at Westminster in May.

“I was someone who supported a relationship with the Conservatives, but not the relationship that we had,” Elliott said.

“I just felt it was too mixed and too difficult for people to understand.”

A conservative spokesman said Tory leader David Cameron was always only interested in Westminster and Europe.

“The assembly never really interested us,” he said.

Mr Doherty said nationalists in particular and the public in general had been “decidedly underwhelmed” by the performance of Owen Paterson since his appointment to Belfast.

“Thankfully many of the decisions which affect the lives of people here have been removed from British Direct Rule Ministers.

“However Owen Paterson, as Secretary of State, does have a role to at least give the pretence of impartiality. Last year before taking office his finger prints where all over the last ill-fated Tory/UUP alliance.

“Today we have the announcement of the latest repackaged effort.

“Given Owen Patterson’s current position it is important that he now spells out very clearly what role he played in the latest merger efforts and in the announcement made today that the local Tories have opted out of the Assembly elections.”

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2010 Irish Republican News