Elliott to stand down as UUP leader

Published Thursday, 08 March 2012
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Tom Elliott is to stand down as the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.

Elliott to stand down as UUP leader
UUP leader Tom Elliott addressing the Stormont Assembly. (© UTV)

Mr Elliott has said he will not seek re-election to the position at the annual general meeting, in just over three weeks time.

In a statement outlining his decision and the reasons behind it, he said some "obstruction and hostility" began immediately following his election as leader and has been "relentless" since then.

The party's AGM is scheduled to take place on Saturday 31 March.

"It has been a great privilege for me to lead the Ulster Unionist Party. I have been given great support by the vast majority of party members, both elected and non-elected," Mr Elliott said.

The party AGM is scheduled to take place on Saturday 31 March - I have informed the party chairman that I will not be putting my name forward for consideration for the position of leader at that meeting.

Tom Elliott

"Following my election as leader, I set about improving internal party structures - since then I have amended the party rules, including discipline; significantly increased internal party communications; negotiated a move for new party headquarters and strengthened our staff structure.

"I have also been successful in leading the political field by making a start to reviewing the government structures and reducing the over-governance of Northern Ireland."

He added: "I ensured that we delivered on an Ulster Unionist Party Manifesto commitment that we would stop the Sinn Fein proposal to introduce on-street car parking charges in a number of towns throughout Northern Ireland and we further delivered on the improvement to the Coleraine to Londonderry rail line that was essential to the Belfast to Londonderry rail link."

But Mr Elliott, who has been at the centre of a number of controversies - including the moment he branded Sinn Féin supporters "scum" in an outburst during the Assembly election last May - also stated that he had not been treated fairly.

"I am also well aware that some people have not given me a fair opportunity at developing and progressing many initiatives," he said.

"Some of this obstruction and hostility began immediately following my election as leader and has been relentless since then. However I accept that is part and parcel of politics."

The out-going party leader added that he had informed the party's chairman.

"I thank all those members of the Party who have given me tremendous support during my time as leader and encourage them to show the same backing for the new party leader," Mr Elliott said.

"As I have done for the past number of years, I will continue to serve the people of Fermanagh & South Tyrone, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Assembly in my role as an MLA."

Mr Elliott took over the leadership from Sir Reg Empey in September 2010 and will continue as MLA for Fermanagh-South Tyrone.

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said Mr Elliott had given loyal and dedicated service.

He added: "I want to pay a warm and genuine tribute to his many fine qualities of honesty, integrity and leadership which he has displayed throughout his tenure as leader."

First Minister Peter Robinson said he had "a good relationship" with Mr Elliott during his time as UUP leader.

The head of the DUP said: "In particular, I pay tribute to his efforts to build greater unionist co-operation. I wish him well as he continues as an MLA in Fermanagh and South Tyrone."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
13 Comments
Ulysses32 in Belfast wrote (904 days ago):
You are right. I am anti-unionist, as is my right within a democratic society. As for mist, better that than hot air that usually emanates from the UUP. I also fail to comprehend why I should wish to attend anything to do with the UUP. I guess I am not one of those croppies and I refuse to lie down. Ho-hum.....
fermanagh unionist in fermanagh wrote (906 days ago):
Ulyssee32 if you must know i am a mid age man . and i think it is green mist or republican mist coming from you.for 30 years the like of yourself has been total anti unionist and that is never going to change. i think before you make a fool of yourself i think you should get in touch with the various groups in fermanagh ,farmers union ,district council, education department ,hospitals and asked them there views on tom. and by the way i took my own car to the waterfront and took a day of work .i expect unlike yourself
Ulysses32 in Belfast wrote (907 days ago):
Fermanagh Unionist. Did you have to pay for the bus to the Wterfront to ensure his inauguration or did you use your pensioner's bus pass. How much is blue-rinse these days? Tom was out of his depth, jurassic is nature and pandied to old-school unionism which does not have a place in Northern Ireland anymore. Respecting a man for his honesty is one thing, respecting a man for foot-in-mouth disease is another.
Fermanagh Unionist in fERMANAGH wrote (907 days ago):
of course there is going to be negative comments made about Mr Elliott. i have had many dealings with the man over the last number of years on a number of issues and found him true to his word of trying to help when other local partys would not even listen.He is at best going to be remembered by the comments made last may which i am sure looking back on it he will be disapointed by his comments. however all that said he has been hounded out from his own party members the likes of basil mcrea or david mcnarry and the local press who from the start never seemed keen to give him a fair crack of the whip.Toms big problem was he was honest and told the truth unlike some of his party members.the UUP is in a mess but judging by the members whos names are looking to replace tom i think that it is saddly the end of the road for the UUP
Ulysses32 in Belfast wrote (907 days ago):
He was always out of his depth. And R, he was that progressive that he bussed in the blue-rinse brigade to ensure that he became leader despite not having the aptitude for it? Was he progressive in his attitude to gay rights, the GAA, nationalism. As David McClarty said, "he made Jim Allister sound like the Dalai Lama." It may be a step in the right direction for the UUP but surely Basil McCrea would be the correct way to go for the UUP now. I am not agreeable with the politics of unionism but McCrea would be more palatable than continually beating the Loyal Orders drum for them.
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