Will ‘private’ talks with DUP scupper Conservative-UUP pact?

The Conservative Party’s Northern Ireland spokesman, Owen Paterson, is reportedly seeking a meeting with UUP leader Reg Empey about those private talks with the DUP that the Conservatives were unaware of… And someone has been talking to the BBC’s Michael Crick

“Some in Belfast think that the Conservative-UUP pact is now effectively dead, and that Conservative leader David Cameron will be forced to announce its demise within the next few days.”

Update Mick has Owen Paterson’s response.

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  • Drumlins Rock

    so who is “some” and “someone” ? wouldnt be the local Cons stirring a bit more ? they who have got anyone elected for decades, but are claiming they are going to stand in all 18 seats, how embarassing that would be without the UUP support.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “have not”

  • Prionsa Eoghann


    The Tories are now inarguably the only genuine unionist party that does not seem to have anti-Catholicism/Irishness at it’s core. I’d reckon in a normal society they would attract almost all the unionist leaning votes. It is upto unionist voters now. Hold onto the sad sad sectarian past(represented by the coalition of UUP/OO/DUP) or let it go and join the rest of us in this century.

    Wonder which way they will vote.

    So much for Cameron’s brave new world. I thought they might have ditched the obviously unreconstructed quick smart.

  • Impartial Reporter

    This has created great tensions within the UUP, a motion against the ‘secret meetings’ is rumoured to be proposed for the Young Unionist AGM next week.

    Party Executive members and senior voices within the party are complaining that there is a ‘secret agenda’ which does not have the support of the grass roots.

    Another split within unionism on the way?

  • Neil

    wouldnt be the local Cons stirring a bit more ?

    More like the oft pointed out fact that trying to enter (or more arrogantly still, ‘create’) non sectarian politics with the UUP is like enlisting Ian Huntley for baby sitting duties. One would imagine that the Tory party are beginning to wake up to who it is they’ve attached themselves to.

    they who have got anyone elected for decades, but are claiming they are going to stand in all 18 seats, how embarassing that would be without the UUP support.

    Again, speculating here, but in the event of the pact falling apart (like the one with Irvine, and the mooted one with the DUP is certain to – who next Alliance, no they wouldn’t have ye) all bets are off. They agreed to stand in all 18 as a part of the UCUNF pact, if that died I would imagine they’ll forget about the whole thing.

    So, who’s next for the pact addict Reggie? Any bets? He’s all out of NI/Unionist parties once the DUP pact dies, as it surely will. Perhaps he can dredge someone up from the fringes of UK politics. Nick Griffin might be interested…

  • innutclem

    This reflects poorly on the selfconscious and paranoid state of unioinism created by the Weasel. Surely odu’s (ordinary decent unionists) are not sucked in by JA in enough numbers tomake him as powerful as he thinks he is

  • buile suibhne

    “I’d reckon in a normal society they would attract almost all the unionist leaning votes.”
    Not sure about that Prionsa Eoghann. The conservatives have no attraction for Lady Silvia, and what about all left leaning unionists? But at least it is good that now we are having a debate about sectarion unionists and non sectarian unionists.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Why o’ why did the Tories not stand on their own platform and if they had to cobble a deal with Unionists after an election well so be it.

    Now they have the hassle of dealing with the dificulties associated with the Unionist parties.

    Do the Tories ever contemplate the numbers of people in Britain with Irish connections. Some of these voters will not be impressed with the Tories jumping in unnessarily on one side in NI.

    It gives the impression that the Tories are willing to do anything they can to gain power and they are already looking untrustworthy. This is a careless impression to put about before an election.

    The British electorate have no great attraction to this Tory party. They at the moment are practically forced by default to accept the Tories over the dis-credited and exhausted Labour party.

    If an electorate does not already trust you why give them ammunition to further distrust you ?

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    buile suibhne

    Fair point.

    However this is something I have debated several times here with unionists who claim not to be sectarian. It would be great to test this if the tories competed with the unreconstructed across all the seats.

  • west belfast

    It seems like panic to me – particularly on the DUP side.

    Only a few years ago they had the UUP dead and buried leaving them with only Lady Sylvia in Westminster.

    Then Jim Allister has one reasonable election and the DUP go into a headspin.

    The fact that naked sectarianism is at its core doesnt bother me in the slightest – Im just surprised the UDA wasnt outside helping with security.

  • Eoghann, has it not dawned on you that by and large Protestants vote for Unionist parties and Catholics for Nationalist ones? One group is neither more or less ‘sectarian’ than the other; they just have opposing constitutional aspirations.

  • Prionsa Eoghann


    “..has it not dawned on you…”

    I love waking up wi the crack ae Dawn!

    “One group is neither more or less ‘sectarian’ than the other;”

    Oh and just how for how long can you hold onto this naive notion about “wan side being as bad as the other” I though grown up’s accounted for their actions rather than claim a defence such as. “We might be bad but see those so and so’s.”

    I’m sorry but it won’t wash…………….if it ever did.

  • alan56

    Beginning to look like Sir Reg has made a catastrophic mistake here. I thought they had said that the days of ‘bowler hatted unionism’ were over…. This will prompt DC to run a mile from UUP if not clarified and quickly.

  • buile suibhne

    Just been reading your successor as supreme blogger ‘Alan in Belfast’ when he talks in yesterday’s post about the TUV and communication. What message is the TUV sending out with the fact that they are holding an event in East Belfast in an Orange hall – not a taig is welcome in this house. Sadly sectarianism is alive and well in those quarters.

  • Davros

    ‘private’ makes it sound kinkier than it probably is.

  • tacapall

    Smokescreen to cover the Tory Party, looks like a bit of “Damage limitation”.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Lets just wait and see what clarification appears, personally I think Peter is using this all to stitch up his career, for example who leaked the OO talks?
    For once I agree with Jim Alastir, Peter created the problem of a possible SF first minister, let him deal with it, he is only interested in “unionist unity” when it is to save his own ass.
    As for the Tory link up, out west here its not an issue on the door steps or with members, but working with the DUP is, with it probably being equally positive and negative, some havnt forgive Arlene for her “betrayal” and remember years of veral and occasional physical abuse from the DUP, others are more concerned to do just about anything to prevent further “greening of the west” the whole idea of non-sectarian politics is in its infantcy here yet, and is some years away.

  • Greenflag

    It was poor judgement by DC to try to ‘resurrect’ the UUP in the image of the Conservative party in England. Politics in both parts of the UK are run along different fault lines .

    It’s not exactly as if the Tories needed the UUP to boost their chances of a general election victory .

    The Cameroonians are looking more lightweight than ever both in relation to Northern Ireland and other parts of the globe . I wonder if Gordon Brown will set up ‘secret ‘ talks with the DUP and SF and promise them all kinds of goodies if they would but support the Labour Party in a hung parliament which cannot yet be ruled out ?

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Will Owen Paterson survive all these clandestine activity.

    Secret meetings with sectarian organisation (albeit by association)

    He has proved himself an unsafe pair of hands. He thought he had the ball and took his eye off it, dropped it and then fumbled the fumble.

  • ooh aah

    reg risks the ear of the future primeminister and possibly a cabinet post for the UUP for the chance to unite with DUP to keep martin out of a job title. It screams mindless sectarian bigotry so much for modern unionism.

  • Jaggers

    Will ‘private’ talks with DUP scupper Conservative-UUP pact? Maybe but will ‘private’ talks scupper Conservative election victory? Partisan’s meddling may have effectively undermined the Assembly which might be a gateway to telling the British public about the sort of people the Conservatives make friends with. There are 5 million Catholics on the mainland and I don’t think they will be very happy once they see the UUP’s credentials, and the naivety of Cameron in getting into bed with them. An early win for Labour in showing what an experienced, politicised group this Tory party is. What are Gordon and Mandy waiting for?

  • Eoghann, one side is more or less as bad as the other politically but militant Nationalism has had the edge when it comes to murder and mayhem.

  • alan56

    Extract from letter to NI Conservatives from Tim Lewis…
    The Conservative Party position across the United Kingdom is unequivocal: there will be no electoral arrangement in Northern Ireland with any Party other than the Ulster Unionist Party with 18 General Election candidates standing as Conservatives and Unionists as standard bearers for change and normal politics in a shared future. Furthermore we will not remain in alliance with any Party that attempts to enter an electoral deal with any other Party for an Assembly or a Westminster Election.

  • alan56

    Reg to Owen…

    ‘Sir Reg has made clear to me that it has no bearing on our joint determination to stand together as ‘Conservatives and Unionists’ at the forthcoming Westminster elections to bring national, mainstream and non-sectarian politics to Northern Ireland.”

  • buile suibhne, I organised a small gathering in an Orange Hall in the early 90s and some of our traditional dancers were ‘Taigs’. The dancers made as big a clatter as a Lambeg drum!!

    The TUV certainly wouldn’t make a positive response to my constitutional suggestions but in the Rathlin ferry saga the TUV team was a lot more use than the MLAs.

  • Prionsa Eoghann


    Wouldn’t you welcome a chance to show the bigotted fenians a way into civilized politics by voting for a unionist party that does not have sectarianism at it’s core.

    I’m sure your goodself and many like you would jump at the chance. Wouldn’t you?

    Back to grown up talk now. I can’t for the life of me understand why the UUP, who were certainties to make gains at the DUP’s expense(even before the sexual and financial shenanigans of the Robinsons) would choose to leesen their electoral chances just to have orange feet on streets where they are effectively commiting a breach of the peace. And to stop a Taig becoming FM.

    Is it really just about supremacy at the end of the day?

  • John Joe

    Now here’s a though for a Friday afternoon.
    I hate to burst our own bubble here but:
    (a) Does anyone know how many papers in Britain are running any Tory-UUP-DUP story as front page news?
    (b) Is the rather poor handling of the whole UUP-Tory link-up just evidence that the Tories aren’t really that bothered about it?
    (c) In the event that its not front page news and the GB Tories aren’t exactly over-committing resources to backing either their link-up with the UUP or some broader Orange Order-hosted pan-unionist electoral alliance, might it be the case that nothing in NI is going to have any significant influence on the opinions of the electorate in England, Scotland or Wales?
    (d) Was the whole purpose of the Tory-UUP exercise a quite sound bite in establishing the current Tory brand and that the story has now moved on (and left NI behind)?

    i.e. To paraphrase an awful programme set in New York – maybe they just aren’t into us…???

  • Eoghann, you seem to have put your cart before the donkey. It’s the constitutional question, stupid 🙂

    The UUP and SDLP will always find it easier to do a deal with extremists than with each other.

  • Mrazik

    Is it really just about supremacy at the end of the day?

    Posted by Prionsa Eoghann on Jan 29, 2010 @ 03:55 PM

    No, it’s isn’t: it’s about weakness. The unionist psyche is founded on the fear that everyone is agin’ us, so, ironically, it’s an ourselves alone attitude that attracts “Ulster nationalists” towards the likes of the DUP.

  • BryanS

    How ridiculous of you to have the arrogance to suggest that 5million catholics in England would give a toss about what the Tories might do in northern ireland. get out of your warped little sectarian shell and smell the coffee.

  • Framer

    buile suibhne asks what message TUV is sending out by holding an event in East Belfast “in an Orange hall – not a taig is welcome in this house.”

    I think you like to frighten yourself Buile. You won’t turn Protestant due to osmotic forces by entering an Orange Hall for an open meeting.

  • tacapall

    I think you like to frighten yourself Buile. You won’t turn Protestant due to osmotic forces by entering an Orange Hall for an open meeting.
    Posted by Framer on Jan 29, 2010 @ 06:20 PM

    It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to work out what he means, I mean have you not been listening to the news lately, why progress has not been made at the Sinn Fein/DUP/OrangeOrder negotiations. Now dont ask me how the OO got in there, but they have, aren’t they the ones who want to parade through Catholic areas, with their anti catholic brethren and kick the pope bands, and dont they also own them Orange halls. Yeah a Catholic would feel real welcome there.

  • Prionsa Eoghann


    Haud yir horses!

    The history of the UUP with it’s leadership intertwined with the OO would scream out extremism in any normal society. Let’s not pretend that the hijinks that the UUP may or may not be upto with the OO and the DUP is somehow normal no matter the historical context.

    As much as it pains me to promote the Tories. There they are in the flesh, a pretty much non-toxic alternative to the traditional anti-Catholic ethos of the UUP, DUP and TUV. Money where the mouth time for ordinary unionist voters.

  • granni trixie

    What will IJP do when UNCUF inevitably flouders, given that his move was premised on being part of a terrific new model of politics blah blah blah which would deliver across the board. Not.

  • Drumlins Rock

    but they are less than nothing here without the UUP tie-up Eoghann, you cant expect them to change a deeply traditional party like the UUP overnight, but it is working, slowly the UUP will reflect the mainland party more and more, remember its not that many yrs ago the OO was a major voting part of the party, and in the old Stormont days the two were virtually one and the same, its not easy making such a massive shift and not losing your grassroot support, so far they are on board but if the UUP were to cold shoulder the OO its bye bye to at least half the party membership.

  • Prionsa Eoghann


    I am often on Oneils site discussing this very matter. I suppose I am just a bit dissapointed because I saw in the UNCUF a genuine way(bless my naivety) for unionists to express their political identity without………..let’s face it the more atavistic and frankly distasteful face that we are used to.

    Sure I take your point about losing half the membership, isee that as a plus though in the grand scheme.

    As someone mentioned earlier, at least we are now seriously talking about non-sectarian uninionism. That at least should not be underrated.

  • ardmaj55

    John Joe [2] If any deluded unionist was watching last night’s question time, they should be seriously disabused of the idea that anybody ‘on the mainland’ could give a stuff about them. [sensible unionists were never under any illusions about this] Not a word was uttered on ‘our wee crisis’ here in a 60 minute discussion on matters important to Britain’s voters. Is that not depressing when the BBC and ITN news covered this story in all bulletins since the Talks began on tuesday?.

  • Reader

    ardmaj55: If any deluded unionist was watching last night’s question time, they should be seriously disabused of the idea that anybody ‘on the mainland’ could give a stuff about them.
    But it’s nationalists that keep telling us we ought to behave because we’re being watched. It doesn’t seem like it. But over there they do know that republicans are still blowing people up.

  • joeCanuck


    Please be more specific.
    I’m a republican (there’s 100s of millions of us over here and over there too) and the only thing I’ve ever blown up is a balloon.

  • ardmaj55

    Reader. they also know in Britain that these are only a minority of a minority of disaffected Republicans, and unless they start bombing over there, nobody in Britain could care less about them. You’re in a state of denial about where sympathies in Britain lie regarding NI. Wake up, The DUP are exposed as time wasting bigots who claimed they couldn’t talk because of the Sabbath because they were such devout Christians, while they spent Sunday in a hotel in England trying to stitch up a deal to gerrymander the elections. Who among unionist voters [apart from your deleded self can’t see through them?