UUP leader Reg Empey didn’t take too long to respond to the Newsletter interview in which the party’s only MP, Sylvia Hermon, publicly criticised the party’s Faustian Pact with the PUP. The BBC report his response here. He seems to be adhering to his official line, also promoted in the Belfast Telegraph today, of needing “time and space” to assess his risky move [Leave Reg alone? – Ed] although that doesn’t necesarily square with earlier reports of other approaches. But the claim that he “acknowledged and respected” the UUP MP’s views seems somewhat disingenuous when she was not actually party to the decision to embrace David Ervine. And it’s worth recalling David Ervine’s, stated, “sole reason” for agreeing to the moveI’ll also highlight these lines from the reported statement:
In response, Sir Reg said in a statement on Friday that Lady Hermon’s views were “well-known throughout the party”.
“The problem of loyalist paramilitaries has evolved over 35 years and this exercise cannot be completed in the space of three weeks – there is progress to be made,” he said.
“Having said that, we will know relatively quickly whether those with whom we are engaged with are being disingenuous.
“If they are, then naturally the position will have to be re-assessed and I will not hesitate to do so. This is not an unconditional arrangement.”