Irish Republican News · December 7, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
UUP disintegration continues
tomelliott.jpg

The new leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Tom Elliott has insisted he is not a “political dinosaur” after another prominent party figure quit.

The party’s annual conference at the Ramada Hotel in south Belfast saw bitterness expressed towards those members who have recently quit the party. Elliott’s intolerant and sectarian remarks about gay pride and the Gaelic Athletics Association formed the context to the departure of three former election candidates, Trevor Ringland, Paula Bradshaw and Harry Hamilton.

Hamilton, who quit the UUP in the run-up to the party’s conference, said the problem stemmed from “a once centrist party moving to a more traditional and isolationist position”.

But he was singled out for criticism at the conference, when UUP treasurer David Campbell described him as “flash-in-the-pan Harry”.

Campbell attacked all those who left the party, saying that in some cases they had left “in an ill-tempered sulk” after a single election “taking their single transferable principles with them”.

Meanwhile, Elliott defended his hardline attitude to the GAA, saying he would not take part in publicity stunts to “win applause”.

“I will not do something, or say something, or turn up somewhere, just for the sake of a photo-opportunity or a pat on the back from an interest group or a section of the media,” he told about 400 gathered UUP members.

“I will not dilute or diminish my deep-seated beliefs simply to pretend that I am something I am not.”

He insisted unionism should not appeal to any particular race, religion or background, and said he accepted nationalists’ passion for a united Ireland.

“I know that there are people in Northern Ireland who will never be won over to unionism.

“And I accept that.

“There is one thing we all have to accept: whatever our differences may be over a United Kingdom versus a united Ireland, our collective duty must be to ensure that Northern Ireland is governed as well as it can be governed.”

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© 2010 Irish Republican News