McCrea 'in the dark' over UUP hearing

McCrea 'in the dark' over UUP hearing

Ulster Unionist MLA Basil McCrea has told UTV he has no idea what kind of complaints have led to him being summoned to a party disciplinary hearing - or even if it is still set to go ahead on Friday.

The Lagan Valley representative had the party whip removed from him before Christmas over comments he made during the ongoing row over the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall.

But, while he believes that further complaints have been made against him on a separate issue, he remains completely in the dark about what they might entail.

"I still don't know what the actual allegations are against me, or who made them," Mr McCrea said.

"It does strike me as slightly strange. It's quite hard to argue your case or provide information or explanation or whatever's required if you don't actually know what you're alleged to have done wrong. It certainly would be helpful from that point of view if I had more details."

Mr McCrea was notified prior to the holiday period that the hearing would be at 4pm on Friday.

However, he responded to inform the party that he couldn't make it due to a prior engagement, but added that he was happy to make himself available on a different date.

He told UTV that he hadn't heard back from the UUP and that still had received no communication at all from the party on the matter.

If I'm given the opportunity to say my piece, I will say it and I think I will win the day.

Basil McCrea, UUP

"As I said in an email to the party, if they can provide me with details, I would be more than happy to see if I can help them with the enquiries," Mr McCrea said.

"But I don't actually know what's happening and no doubt they'll be in touch in due course - but as to whether the meeting is happening or not, I have no idea."

According to Mr McCrea, such hearings have been held in the past without the person at the centre of them actually being present.

"But that tends to have been the case when the people didn't want to turn up," he added.

"I stress that I am more than happy to go and explain my position, which I am absolutely certain is in line with party policy and the appropriate stance."

Mr McCrea remains hopeful that the issues, whatever they may be, can be resolved.

The removal of the party whip came after Mr McCrea agreed with an Alliance Party amendment to the Belfast City Council motion on the Union flag, which supported a designated days policy.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt accused the MLA of doing "enormous damage" to the party and claimed that the comments showed "an inability to exercise self-discipline or demonstrate the basic characteristics of teamwork".

But South Down MLA John McCallister said Mr McCrea's statement had been "measured and sensible" and that the disciplinary action taken at the time was "unnecessary".

© UTV

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