UUP pull their support for Alban Maguinness

Yesterday demonstrated why Sinn Fein and the DUP retain the majority stake in Westminster over the moderate muddle middle… Yesterday Margaret Ritchie did what no party leader in Britain or the Republic would do before an election and revealed she would not take her party into opposition with the SDLP… Thus taking much of the fun danger promise out of voting SDLP… At the same time, Reg Empey pulled out of his previous minded view that his party would vote for Alban Maguinness (for the sake of fairness and him being best qualified), and his party voted for Danny Kennedy instead… Why? Well, one plausible explanation is that Alban’s the guy who described the evacuation of the north Belfast Torens estate by Protestants as windfall site for additional housing (for, it has been consistently implied by his north Belfast DUP colleagues, Catholics)… Here’s the SDLP’s man’s explanation from Hansard for his original choice of words in March 2006:

the people who left the Torrens estate did so in an organised fashion and to an agreed programme, and were rehoused immediately. The Torrens area was a windfall site in the context of providing additional housing, as it had become a sink estate. There was an opportunity for it to be rehabilitated and rebuilt.

The explanation goes, that backing Maguinness under such a withering local attack was too much water to carry for the Ulster Unionists last remain MLA in the are, the Labour minded Fred Cobain… It ably demonstrates just how strong an influence the communal past (not to mention present) continues to exert locally, and some of the difficulty facing either moderate party in trying to carve out and occupy a middle ground politics when two men – whose instincts would be to take a Labour whip at Westminster – can be so profoundly divided by the politics of their own constituency…

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  • But wasn’t that the explanation from Nelson McCausland rather than the UUP? It isn’t like the DUP even need a rational explanation either.

  • pinni

    With the UUP and the SDLP, headless chickens come to mind.

  • Framer

    The strongest reason proffered for the UUP voting for Alban Maginness was him being a barrister which is like asking Michael McGimpsey to step down as Health Minister for Alasdair McDonnell because he is a doctor.

  • The Original Sam Maguire

    It’s somewhat harder to look genuine when you’re talking about unionist pacts to your base when your voting for a taig as the Justice Minister

  • Neil

    Yesterday Margaret Ritchie did what no party leader in Britain or the Republic would do before an election and revealed she would not take her party into opposition with the SDLP

    Typo or am I being dense? Should that not read opposition with the UCUNF?

    Reg has to be the most indecisive, flighty person in politics. He can’t seem to decide who he wants to pact with, where he’s going to run, who he’s going to back, whether he supports or opposes St. Andrews. He’s an absolute liability, he comes across badly, he flounders about like a man who’s looking for a gimmick that’s going to generate support, but he never keeps it up long enough to have an impact.

    At the minute the only thing that he looks committed to is the Tory pact, and that at any cost. If I were UU I’d be wondering whether Reg was taking the whole party down the shitter.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Or could it just be that Alban Magennis will be rewarded in a few years with a Chief Justice role.
    Alban has been disengaged from much hurly-burly stuff (yes I know he was the candidate for Euros) but never likely to get elected…but certainly hes more likely to be seen in some arty gallery or opera type place than Stormont.
    And the whole Alban for Justice Minister was just a rearguard action. Token opposition.

  • Sam Semple

    Forget this nonsense talk of “unionist unity”, Northern Ireland desperately needs “progressive unity”.

    UUP, Cons, Greens, SDLP, Labour, PUP, Alliance should start talks post election about how Northern Ireland can finally move away from sash and bodhran politics, to bread and butter politics. Their collective mandate must be exercised more.

    The challenge must be taken.

  • Michaelhenry

    where is labour standing here at sam simple,sorry semple.

  • joeCanuck

    Let me rephrase the “why?” question.
    Q. Why have the UUP gone back on “their word” and acted as if they are a sectarian party?
    A. Because they always have been, and still are, a sectarian party.

  • Its the eternal question: why do small, upwardly mobile parties always shoot themselves in the foot? surely thats the job of the dissidents loyalist and/or republican.

  • Greenflag

    joe canuck ,

    ‘Because they the UUP always have been, and still are, a sectarian party.’

    And can’t be otherwise Joe even if they wanted to . The very State of Northern Ireland demands it .It was built on sectarian foundations and cannot be otherwise .This is why the SDLP, UUP , and Alliance will always be howling into the wind .

    The only real matter of interest for Irish ‘nationalists ‘ and republicans in all of this is how much ‘contamination’ the Conservative Party will pick up from their new ‘love ‘ affair with the UUP .

    The implications for future British /Irish relations will hinge on that aspect and given Cameron’s generally lightweight and badly misjudged essays into relations with other european states chances are that we could all be back to the Thatcher era before long .Some of the nutters on the far right of British and NI politics will of course welcome mass unemployment and the spin off of riots and social instability that will be set off all across Britain but as we all know from history the NI tinderbox would’nt need too many sparks to go off again ;(


    Why should the UUP support a party who cuts off funding to Loyalist areas due to Loyalist violence but rewards Republicans with new houses for carrying on there struggle.
    Ms Ritchie is backing a loser if she is looking for help from Unionism for her dying party.

  • Neil

    Ms Ritchie is backing a loser if she is looking for help from Unionism for her dying party.

    Ms Ritchie is backing a loser full stop; trying to out green the shinners didn’t work either. I doubt with that in mind she’s stupid enough to pin her hopes on Unionism’s help.

  • Greenflag, IIRC your Big Idea – ie repartition – is based on, er, sectarian foundations πŸ™‚

  • Comrade Stalin

    The UUP voting for Alban would have been one – albeit tokenistic – way to show people that they could rise above tribalism and act in a cross-community fashion. However they spurned the opportunity and decided that voting in support of a taig would be just too much for people to handle just before an election. Which is proof, if anyone needs it, that the UUP haven’t changed.

    NMNCSA, Alban’s comments were and are reprehensible. But is he the only person in the Assembly who has said reprehensible things ? And why did the UUP decide to overlook these remarks before the vote, when they were saying in public that they would be supporting Alban ? What happened to change their minds ?

  • I’ve read the various comments about the vote on the Justice Minister and just want to say that the vote was not about myself, or my individual merits or demerits as a candidate for that office. The support or lack of it by the UUP was neither here nor there. I would have loved them to have supported me but it’s not the central issue. The issue was for the SDLP the departure by the DUP and Sinn Fein from using the d’hondt mechanism to appoint a Minister, the cross community method of electing a Minister gives a veto to one or other of the major parties. In agreeing to this Sinn Fein knew quite well that they were handing a veto to the DUP to prevent the election of an SDLP Justice Minister. Sinn Fein by voting for myself as Justice Minister were cynically and quite hypocritically exercising their vote to cover up the gerrymander that they had colluded with the DUP. People should remember that gerrymandering was one of the major causes of the Troubles. How ironic it is that Sinn Fein have become like the Unionists of old in their exercise of political power. They remind me very much of the pigs in Animal Farm, “all pigs are equal but some are more equal than others”.


    I agree the SDLP should have gotten the post as Alliance have no right to any post on there mandate. However for the UUP to support Mr Maginess would have cost us heavily in votes at next election for no reward!
    The real villians here are the DUP/SF & British Government who conspired to deprive the SDLP of the Justice post.