DAVID Burnside’s recent suggestion that the UUP leave the Executive to join the Opposition looks likes it’s been put on the long finger, if these minutes (below the fold) of UUP meetings earlier this month are anything to go by. Elsewhere in the (admittedly rather dull) document, the party seems keen on pushing the establishment of an Environmental Protection Agency (thus removing Crown immunity from the Dept of Environment run by the DUP’s Arlene Foster) and 15 local authorities (as opposed to the 11 favoured by the relevant Minister, Arlene Foster). There was nothing to report on party reform – the most pressing issue for the UUP – but “but that our attempts in getting articles through to the local press required greater effort”. Hopefully, this post goes some way towards addressing that. On the Irish Language, the UUP sees the “Act is an attempt by republicans to use the language as a cultural weapon in their ongoing struggle against unionism. As such, their proposals should not be supported”. SUMMARY OF OUTCOME OF SPECIAL MEETINGS OF THE ULSTER UNIONIST MLA’S HELD ON TUESDAY 7th and WEDNESDAY 8th AUGUST 2007
UUP Opposition / Corporate Executive Decisions
It was agreed that the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group will keep under ongoing review the Party’s participation in the Assembly Executive and will prepare a submission to the Executive Review Committee to put forward proposals to ensure the creation of a more suitable form of democratic and accountable government for Northern Ireland. Ministers report to Group on Executive Business.
Devolution of Policing & Justice
It was agreed that the relevant parties would meet to prepare a submission on the Devolution of Policing & Justice, due on 17th August. Meeting to be called by Party Leader.
It was agreed to pursue consultations in the Party with key people. Meeting with key people to be called by Party Leader.
Environment & Planning
It was agreed that the Party spokesperson should look at taking the initiative in launching a campaign for an environment protection agency by way of a Private Member’s Bill or a Committee Bill; and to take an interest in the relevant environmental Groups and engage with them on a regular basis. It was also agreed not to move on the Party’s position of a 15-council model.
Performance in the Assembly & Projection of our efforts at Stormont / Party Reform
Performance in the Assembly & Projection of our efforts at Stormont – It was agreed that the Party’s performance in the Assembly had dramatically improved, but that our attempts in getting articles through to the local press required greater effort.
Party Reform – The Party Leader agreed to fully report to the Group again in due course. It was also agreed that the issue of MLAs contributions would be returned to the agenda for a full discussion.
It was agreed to support the motion with the inclusion of a suggested amendment, put forward by Roy Beggs, to include the words ‘St Andrews’ in the text. The motion is as follows:
This house considers that arrangements for suitable recognition of the Irish Language were made in the practical implementation of the Belfast Agreement, and that present agitation for an Irish Language Act is an attempt by republicans to use the language as a cultural weapon in their ongoing struggle against unionism. As such, their proposals should not be supported.
It was agreed that as this was such a wide-ranging topic it warranted a comprehensive discussion; therefore a special meeting should be arranged with a full complement of Members.