McNarry: “the party will close ranks and anybody who wants to be a hypocrite will get their photograph taken”

Tom Eliott wielding scissors at the opening of David McNarry's Saintfield Advice Centre OpeningIt’s the story that keeps on giving. And that looks to be David McNarry’s intention.

Now free of having to notify the UUP press office about media interviews and statements – something that Tom Elliott has adhered to as Party Leader – David McNarry is everywhere. This morning’s News Letter. The Belfast Telegraph. Though nothing fully authored by him in the Irish News. [Ed: Maybe he’s saving that as a treat for Thursday?]

In recent days he has appeared on UTV Live, Stormont Today, and this morning gave a remarkable thirty minute interview to the Nolan Show. He opened with the statement:

McNarry: I haven’t really wanted to be making the headlines. I’m not really concerned about me when you put it into perspective, Stephen, from what I hear on your programme about sick babies, about the economy, and dissidents and job losses and vulnerable families. They’re all more important to me.

McNarry then went on to discuss at length the talk, his involvement and his impression of the UUP leader, suggesting that Tom Elliott dithers.

He said that “other senior figures” agree with him that “[Tom Elliott] has a problem” with how he was dealing with the DUP/UUP cooperation talks (before McNarry gave the interview and resigned).

Nolan: Are you suggesting that there are senior members of the Ulster Unionist Party who agree with your assessment of Tom Elliott?

McNarry: Yes.

Nolan: Are there many?

McNarry: Yes

Nolan: Would they be in the majority?

McNarry: In terms of senior members? Yes.

Nolan: So you’re suggesting this morning that Tom Elliott does not have the support and confidence of the majority of the senior members of the Ulster Unionist Party?

McNarry: Not to the same extent as I have. People react in different ways. It’s quite possible that the Ulster Unionist Party will organise a photocall today or Monday and they’ll have all MLAs and senior people around Tom and they’ll be smiling. That’s all it would be, a photo.

With bridges well and truly ablaze, it would be amazing if McNarry could ever take back the UUP whip.

Nolan: Could you see yourself joining the DUP?

McNarry: No. [later] I don’t jump ship. My heart is in the Ulster Unionist Party.

Also writing in this morning’s News Letter, DUP MP (and UUP escapee) Jeffrey Donaldson remarked that “the plight now facing David McNarry is one with which I am very familiar”. Yet even if McNarry softened on jumping ship, would the DUP be able to control David McNarry’s fury? Numbers-wise, McNarry’s exit from the UUP assembly group helps Sinn Fein (in terms of extra committee positions) more than it impacts the DUP.

More likely that a career as an independent unionist beckons, sitting beside David McClarty and Jim Allister in front of Alliance in the Assembly chamber.

Stephen Nolan asked what would happen next?

McNarry: I think what will happen – and it will happen because this is what parties do – there’ll be more disinformation and bad mouthing circulated, briefed about me David McNarry and the party will close ranks and anybody who wants to be a hypocrite will get their photograph taken. But it is quite amazing what people say to me in private and then say in public.

At times, it feels like more of a human interest story than a political one. It’s very one sided at the moment. Over the weekend, there were those within the party who viewed McNarry’s resignation as “one of the best things to happen to the UUP”, expressing “[relief] that he’s finally done it, as he’s threatened to enough”. The bad mouthing in public has yet to begin.

In the meantime, David McNarry is eeking out Tom Elliott’s punishment. What started of as “panto” is becoming more damaging.

By only revealing a few details at a time about the UUP/DUP talks, and by being so available to the media, he is singlehandedly keeping the story in the news agenda. Think what it would be like if McNarry could use twitter!

Only time can tell whether McNarry can claim his leader’s scalp.

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  • Michael Shilliday

    Nolan: So you’re suggesting this morning that Tom Elliott does not have the support and confidence of the majority of the senior members of the Ulster Unionist Party?

    McNarry: Not to the same extent as I have

    Hard to know what to say to that………….

  • Comrade Stalin

    I listened to the interview on iplayer, I thought it was bizarre. McNarry clearly sounded emotional, I would almost but not quite say he wasn’t really fit to do an interview.

    I found all the talk of how he didn’t want to be the headlines to be cheese of the highest order given that he spent 30 minutes talking about himself and how wounded he was. He must really think people are that stupid.

  • In fairness I do feel sorry for him and given his record that should not be easy.
    But he is a man who has given his life to the UUP and has stuck with it. He was right to say that he doesnt jump ship.
    It has all come crashing down around him.
    And it does not look like Elliott will fare much better.
    The UUP just doesnt have the numbers. McCrea and McCallister and Kinahan arent mainstream, Nesbitt has no gravitas. And the rest…….with the exception of Kennedy are just too lightweight.
    Having two “wings” is only viable if the Party is big enough to accomodate two wings. Its even a strength in many ways.
    But two wings in a small party is a luxury.

  • dwatch

    UUP lose two committee positions

    The Ulster Unionist Party has had to withdraw from two Stormont committees following the departure of David McNarry from its Assembly group.
    A statement from the party said it will give up its places on the committees for Employment and Learning (DEL) and Regional Development (DRD).

    Due to standing orders one of these places will go to Sinn Féin while the other will be offered to Mr McNarry – who quit the group after being disciplined for speaking to the media about secret talks on unionist unity with the DUP.

    Party leader Tom Elliott dropped him from his position as Deputy Chair of the Education committee, a seat which has now gone to Strangford MLA Mike Nesbitt.

    The statement issued on Wednesday said: “It is for David McNarry to explain how the loss of a Stormont Committee seat to Sinn Féin – caused by his decision to leave the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group – advances the cause of Unionism.”

    The reshuffle will also see Mid Ulster MLA Sandra Overend join the Enterprise and Trade committee, and assume the role of party spokesperson.

    The moves were decided during a meeting on Tuesday morning, the UUP said.

    © UTV News

  • cynic2

    “It is for David McNarry to explain how the loss of a Stormont Committee seat to Sinn Féin – caused by his decision to leave the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group – advances the cause of Unionism”

    Isn’t it the leaders job to explain why he precipitated this situation. A simple ‘ I hadn’t a clue’ or ‘ I was caught out and needed a scapegoat’ will do

  • cynic2

    McNarry may be right. I suspect that the party will soon leave him (and the Great Leader) by slowly dissolving like a sachet of ENOs in a glass of water, hissing and spitting but fading away until you just cant see it any-more. All that’s left in the end is a chalky taste and a few bubbles (probably from Ken)

  • Comrade Stalin

    I agree cynic, that statement WRT handing a seat to SF is what shows the UUP still doesn’t get it. I bet that one came from Elliott.

  • GoldenFleece

    ‘The statement issued on Wednesday said: “It is for David McNarry to explain how the loss of a Stormont Committee seat to Sinn Féin – caused by his decision to leave the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group – advances the cause of Unionism.”’

    Wow. Just wow. Utterly clueless.

  • IJP


    That’d be the same UUP which fully endorsed (and indeed publicly advocated) the decision to hand half of DEL’s current powers to John O’Dowd, lest we forget.

  • dwatch

    Pressure on UUP chief to bar McNarry

    Last night a senior UUP figure told the News Letter that in the wake of the interview there was agreement within the party’s upper echelons that Mr McNarry had to be expelled.

    The veteran party figure, who asked not to be named, said: “He should be out. I think what he’s done is just intolerable. He has a history of these sort of solo runs attacking colleagues and it just cannot continue.

  • Obelisk

    Remember when the Conservatives were at their absolute nadir in the early part of the last decade and people were openly talking of the Liberal Democrats replacing them as the main opposition party?

    The UUP seems to pine for success like that.

    Are we on the outside missing something by the way? All I see looking at this party is pure rot, inertia and decline, a political party on the precipice of total irrelevance and final dissolution.

    What do the people on the inside see? What path to recovery have they marked out? In their heart of hearts, do they really believe there is better days ahead for the UUP?

    Or are they just continuing for the sake of continuing?

  • dwatch

    Anyone want to give this guy a rope.

    ‘I’m in the cold … but I’m not going without a fight’

    Read more:

  • Eglise en bois

    For anyone who has known David McNarry, there is nothing about this situation that will surprise them.

    He has always been a maverick, always been on solo runs, always “working on behalf of the leader” but usually way of the reservation.

    This is vintage McNarry. remeber this is the guy who genuinely believed that he could lead the UUP but got around 10% in the leadership contest. His opinion of himself and his abilities are rarely shared by anyone else and his capacity to be egocentric is legendary.

    In a real sense, if the UUP would (like the DUP always does) refuse to comment on internal matters, all you are left with is a single, self centred MLA making a prat of himself. If necessary then the UUP should put him through any disciplinary process they have – assuming they have some – and throw him out.

    It may not satisfy everyone it may not impress anyone but at least it shows a form of leadership and decisiveness!

  • OneNI

    Good to see David McNarry is still on the UUP website.

    Obviously Danny Kennedy controls the website!

    I hope David goes back into the UUP fold

    I hope he gets the opportunity to speak at the forthcoming AGM

  • dwatch

    Well said Eglise en bois, if anyone deserves retributive justice
    for his solo bullyboy embarassing tactics against fellow UUP colleagues using the media over many years its David McNarry.

  • @DianaRusk: UUP MLA Ross Hussey says David McNarry has been acting like “a spoilt child” and is likely to be expelled.

    While clinging to the party he didn’t leave while others abandoned for the DUP and Alliance, the UUP itself may prise his finger tips off the ship and set McNarry adrift.

  • alex gray

    This story is not about David McNarry. As anyone who read his piece in the News Letter on Wednesday would see, it is about a split over the direction the UUP should take. He wants a twin party co-operation on the unionist side, presumably with the 2 unionist parties figfhting under a single mainifesto and sitting as one bloc in the next assembly which could matter for the First Minsiter’s position. The other side – McCrea and so on – want to move into opposition but as McNarry says – there is no party on the other side for them to work with to form an alternative cross-community government because the SDLP has said they will NOT go into opposition. Elliott has been caught running two policies simultaneously – one of which was covert. The danger for Elliott is that the slow relaese of damaging material will go on and on – death by 1000 cuts, I think they call it. The papers will be after the minutes McNarry says he has – and he may have much more than that – hgence his confidence in warning Elliott about Elliott digging a bigger hole for himself. These revelations could be damaging. What is more if Danny Kennedy and others who probably really agree with McNarry but can’t say so in public – presumably Elliott would sack him as a Minister if he did – he needs to be careful. Elliott may well fall as the revelations continue and Kennedy should be careful not to be too closely associated with Elliott. Kennedy could yet emerge as Leader because quite honestly it is too soon for Nesbitt and McCrea is a joke.

  • Eglise en bois

    Sadly for too many of us on this site, we see the end being what is good for the parties, surely the key issue is what is good for the electorate and the democratic process.

    The survival or otherwise of either political parties or politicians should be irrelevant if good government is being delivered and a suitably wide canvass of parties is available form which the electorate can choose.

    Our system doesn’t lend itself to modern dynamic politics and NI historically doesn’t actually do politics in a liberal sense, we do tribal voting. So the current machinations and personal ego trips of individuals and parties are sideshow in what is actually important.

    Can NI be properly and successfully governed, delivering modern; education, health, infrastructures and employment based on our current two block model or do we need proper challenge and therefore opposition.

    The thouhts and fears of unionism losing the FM post should now be irrelevant in the face of the real political challenges, but if this is what drives David McNarry and key elements of the UUP and DUP then we are being done a massive disservice.

  • cynic2

    “Last night a senior UUP figure told the News Letter that in the wake of the interview there was agreement within the party’s upper echelons “~

    Which one of the multitude of echelons? One assumes that the party leader:

    * is a member of all of them
    * has told all of them he agrees with their positions

  • cynic2

    UUP politics. Badger baiting without the badgers

  • andnowwhat

    I listened to the interview live and it was disturbing. I agree with FJH in that I genuinely feel sorry for him as a man who has given so much t the party but who I despise, as I have done for many years.

    Betrayal is a horrible thing to watch, no matter to whom it is happening. It’s kind of like when the tories got the knives out for Thatch. No matter how I despise(d) her, it was a horrible thing to witness.

  • dwatch
  • Alan N/Ards

    Englise en bois

    You have hit the nail on the head. This is all about him and nothing else. Anyone who has had the misfortune to have crossed him will testify to this. As Tonto would have said “he speaks with a forked tounge”

  • Comrade Stalin

    If I were in the UUP (thank Christ I’m not) I would find McNarry’s behaviour intolerable and I’d be pressing for him to be kicked out of the party. The man has a view of himself as a leader and a power broker, and he is neither. If he had an issue with a leadership matter he should have handled it internally rather than running to the press.

    At the same time, he is a bit of a fall guy here and I agree with those above who say that this matter is symptomatic of a wider fissure within the UUP itself.

  • cynic2

    Exclusive …the UUP disciplinary process starts:

  • cynic2

    Except Tom will be the one who finishes up in the water

  • streetlegal

    Whither McNarry? There’s only room for one unionist maverick at Stormont and that position has already been filled by Jim Allister. Come the next election it will ‘pipe and slippers’ time for McNarry. Still – he can keep picking up his MLA salary until then…

  • dwatch
  • Tweedybird

    The once great Unionist party is again fighting with themselves,
    its sad watching from the side lines to see them self destruct.The DUP must be laughing in all the free p’s churches Northern Ireland.