The Ulster Unionist Party reflects on the future of Northern Ireland

The third series of Holywell Trust’s Forward Together podcasts has heard from experts in a range of areas – including the economy, skills, education, young people’s experience, housing – and also considered best practice elsewhere. As it moves towards a close, it puts the arguments for major change in the governance of Northern Ireland to our political leaders.  In the first of this closing series of podcasts, we spoke to Steve Aiken – who at the time was still leader of the …

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Swann calls for a ‘new unionism’ of ‘radical moderates’ at strident conference #UUP17

Sustained anti-Irish Language Act rhetoric was an effective smokescreen that diverted attention from any focus on the UUP’s disappointing election results. Robin Swann confidently delivered his first speech to conference as party leader with a call a new unionism and the desire for radical moderates (though he was light on detail).

Obsessing about vote management is inevitable but shouldn’t distract us from what happens afterwards

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has predictably taken a hammering over his personal choice to vote SDLP next. The Newsletter has helpfully quoted 8 UUP candidates who think otherwise. They can hardly be blamed. Most of them  rely on DUP transfers to  get elected and aren’t expecting SDLP transfers anytime soon. They mortally fear a DUP plump that leaves them high and dry and in some cases, Sinn Fein cosy and warm and elected  instead. So why did Mike do …

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Confident Mike Nesbitt challenges UUP party faithful on cold spots like same sex marriage and Irish #UUP15

REVIEW of the Ulster Unionist Party conference, at times self-indulgent as the party celebrated their success at Westminster but with an emphasis on how they are distinct from other unionist parties. Challenges to the party faithful about being on the wrong side of history over attitudes on same-sex marriage, some policy ideas and reassurance from the Shadow Secretary of State.

James Molyneaux, master of Ulster Unionist immobility remembered

Of the newspaper  obits of Jim Molyneaux so far Chris Ryder’s ( ex Sunday Times) captures him best. He became leader  of the Ulster Unionist party first at Westminster then overall, largely  because  he was the senior man at Westminster and Stormont flickered into half-life for only a few short months during his time. A shy man with impeccable manners, it could be said that his courtesy often concealed  his endless political manoeuvring   to hold the chronically divided Ulster Unionist party …

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#UUP2014 conference review & audio: “We want Fermanagh South Tyrone … we can win the Westminster seat”

Around 300 people filled the Ramada Hotel venue, marginally younger than previous years, and during the morning extra chairs had to be brought in to add a couple more back rows. It’s clear that the UUP have internally stabilised and while they emphasised their growth in the local government election, it’s not clear yet that their “shrink to grow” policy has come to fruition. Westminster candidates Jo-Anne Dobson (Upper Bann) and Danny Kinahan (South Antrim) were showcased. Both spoke confidently, …

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UUP Conference: Mike Nesbitt’s leader speech

UUP gavel

In his first speech as leader to the UUP Conference, Mike Nesbitt outlined his vision to end sectarianism, claimed to understand social justice, and spoke frequently about ‘lost opportunities’. The UUP was a party for everyone who was pro-Union. In a very long speech (45 minutes) he called for “a road map for the way ahead for the next generation … that shows where we want to go, and identifies the best route to get there”. He characterised the 10-20 …

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Enoch Powell at 100: trust in parliament, not Paisley, he told unionists

I hope Mick forgives me for not burying my brief precious memoir of Enoch Powell in a comment below. I had quite a bit to do with Powell in the late 70s and again in the early 80s. His belief in the supremacy of Parliament had a mystical quality. For as long as Northern Ireland elected members to Westminster the Union was secure. No one would dare remove them against their will. Constitutional observance secures the Union. By implication therefore he …

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Tom Elliott’s speech to #uupconf and a quick interview

UUP gavel

Tom Elliott walked into the hall to begin his leader’s speech to strains of Arcade Fire’s Ready to Start. A fine sentiment, though the song’s first line may not be UUP policy! Businessmen drink my blood / Like the kids in art school said they would / And I guess I’ll just begin again / You say can we still be friends … All the kids have always known / That the emperor wears no clothes / But to bow …

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UUP Conference … short, sweet, Secretary of State spoke, an Orange Lodge scolded

UUP gavel

Any UUP delegates scanning Saturday morning’s papers over breakfast might have choked on their cornflakes when they realised that the Irish News had devoted the best part of a page to UUP conference news, while there was absolutely no mention in the Newsletter! And the date wasn’t 1st April. The UUP Conference kicked off about 10.15am in Armagh City Hotel. In the absence of the (Anglican) Archbishop of Armagh, Rev Andrew Forster opened in prayer. The local constituency chairman, Councillor …

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Suddenly everyone wants to be an Ulster Unionist!

Fearghal McKinney chairing a panel at the UUP conference

First it was the Secretary of State Owen Paterson … … and then SDLP vice-chair Fearghal McKinney. Everyone wants to be branded as an Ulster Unionist at their conference this morning in Armagh! Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about and reports from civic, academic and political events, reviews cultural performances, chairs discussions, and live-tweets, streams and records lectures and conferences. He delivers …

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UUP conference preview – #uupconf (and a preview of what Tom won’t say in his speech!)

2011 UUP logo

What do you think Tom Elliott should say in his UUP conference speech on Saturday? I began last year’s UUP conference preview post with a fantastical vision of a Barcamp-style UUP ‘un-conference’, complete with delegate-suggested sessions. I also imagined the delegates writing Tom Elliott’s speech by scribbling suggested sentences on post-it notes and then knitting the fragments together in a “sensible and compelling order” to produce his address. This year I tried to go further and asked attendees and panellists …

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Bill Craig dies aged 86

I’m not really the person to do justice to an In memoriam post for William Craig but as no one else has noted his death I’ll add this brief biography and thus create a thread for comment: Rt. Hon. William Craig, solicitor. Born in Cookstown, 2nd December 1924. Educated at Dungannon Royal School, Larne Grammar School, and Queen’s University, Belfast. Served in the Royal Air Force from 1943 to 1946. Founder of Queen’s University Unionist Association in 1950. Admitted as …

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Basil McCrea calls on Sir Reg to “go soon”

The BBC reports that Ulster Unionist MLA Basil McCrea wants party leader Sir Reg Empey to step down now rather than in the autumn as he had indicated.  From the BBC report. Mr McCrea, who is viewed as a possible contender to replace Sir Reg, says the party needs to elect a new leader as soon as possible. “There’s a general rule that whenever people decide that they’re going in any walk of life, that if you don’t go soon, …

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Risk of going beyond either/or…

This is article was first published in Fortnight magazine back in February 2003. Chris Farrington is now a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences’ in the School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin. Although the circumstances it describes has changed radically and a large swathe of the dramatis personae referred to have shuffled off their political coils, the principles he describes are to some extent hardwired into …

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More on the UUC meeting…

The Guardian editoralises boldly: The immediate villains of the piece are anti-agreement campaigners inside the Ulster Unionists, led by two MPs, Jeffrey Donaldson and David Burnside. They hold out the unacceptable and un realistic prospect of devolution without Sinn Fein. Unionists should recognise that by rejecting Mr Trimble, they would also be rejecting Northern Ireland’s opportunity to run its own affairs. By contrast, Mr Trimble’s record is commendable. He took the bold step of swinging mainstream unionist opinion behind the …

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