“That would be ludicrous.”

Still waiting forTranscript available[permanent link], but the BBC report that the UUP’s only MP, Sylvia Hermon, has stated in the Commons that she was not party to the decision to approach the UVF-linked PUP leader, and MLA, David Ervine to join the UUP in the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group, which caused her “great distress” according to the report. She seems to have given the move her qualified support though.. Apparently ignoring the Secretary of State’s reminder that the UVF are “still involved in criminality in a big way”. Mind you, he forgot about his appointing of the Chair of the PUP to the Policing Board.. Updated Hansard quote below.One quote I have seen from Sylvia Hermon in the debate –

“If Sir Reg is able to establish now a policy to bring about loyalist decommissioning and prevent any more murders… that would be worthwhile.[Update] Apart from that I am deeply distressed by the decision of my party colleagues.”

Meanwhile, the PUP’s David Ervine is denying that he had been offered any inducements to join the new Assembly Group

Mr Ervine said: “I have not been promised anything.

“One fool described me as a fool for not demanding to be a minister.

“That would be ludicrous.

“I have no intention, nor has anybody any intentions, of allowing me to be a minister in the Northern Ireland Executive.”

Arguably, though, being accepted within that Assembly Group was, in itself, an inducement to the PUP.

Update Added to the quote from UUP MP Sylvia Hermon More Full quote by Sylvia Hermon MP –

Lady Hermon: That is enormously kind and generous of the hon. Gentleman. He and his colleagues will know that I do not, unlike them, hold a dual mandate. I am not a Member of the Assembly, but only of this House. I was not a party to the decision taken by my fellow colleagues in the Assembly. That decision caused me deep distress. However, having said that, I believe, having had a long conversation last night with my party leader, Sir Reg Empey, that this might allow him an opportunity to exercise leverage on loyalist paramilitaries. It was perfectly obvious that the Northern Ireland Office has no strategy to bring about loyalist decommissioning. If Sir Reg is able to establish now a policy to bring about loyalist decommissioning and prevent any more murders, such as that of Lisa Dorrian in my constituency, that would be worth while. Apart from that, I am deeply distressed by the decision of my party colleagues.