Unionist party splinters
Wednesday 06 January 1999
After the split in the UK Unionist Party, which held five of the Northern Ireland Assembly's 108 seats, the Unionist cause is represented by six factions within the new institution. Both of the fragments remain opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.
The agreement needs a stable and substantial section of Unionism to prop it up, but with such disarray in the ranks uncertainty is the order.
In yesterday's split, four UK Unionist assembly members abandoned their leader, Robert McCartney, and formed the Northern Ireland Unionist Party. While Mr McCartney seems to command the support of his party's grassroots outside the assembly, within the chamber he will become leader of a party with no other members.
The party has recently been closely aligned with the Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party, campaigning vigorously for a "no" vote in last year's referendum on the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr McCartney accused the four of an act of "political infamy", saying they had committed a fraud against the electorate and challenging them to resign their seats and fight by-elections. He said the rebels had little support, and denied their claim that he was a despot intent on dragooning them into a boycott of the assembly.
The dissidents attacked Mr McCartney's "insistence that we blindly acquiesce in his exit strategy from the assembly". They said that would weaken the anti-agreement forces, adding: "For elected members to withdraw from the assembly on the personal whim of a party leader at a time of maximum crisis for the Union would be an act of gross political irresponsibility."
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
If Surrey were Syria: Social experiment shows what it's like to live under siege
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£23000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Account Executive is r...
£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Full Time position available now at a growing...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive + incentives + uncapped comms: SThree:...
£34000 - £36000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Analytics & Reporting Tea...