UUP whip withdrawn from McCrea

Published Thursday, 13 December 2012
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The Ulster Unionist Party whip has been withdrawn from Basil McCrea.

UUP whip withdrawn from McCrea
Mr McCrea spoke out of line with party policy. (© UTV)

The Lagan Valley MLA said he received the news on Thursday morning.

It comes after he spoke against the party line when he agreed with Alliance about only flying the Union Flag from Belfast City Council on some days.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said Mr McCrea's recent comments have shown an "inability to exercise self-discipline or demonstrate the basic characteristics of teamwork".

He added that he is doing "enormous damage" to the party.

Mr McCrea told UTV he was disappointed to learn of the decision.

He continued: "I've been trying to point out what is the right way forward and put out constructive ideas and frankly I'm disappointed. I told Mike that I don't think it's the right way forward, but it's Mike's decision and that's what he's done.

"If I voted for designated days in Lisburn and if in Stormont we have designated days and other councils then why would I take any different opinion wherever I am?

"To my mind this is UUP policy and I was just bringing it to the attention of people and I also happen to think it's the right way forward - but I do think all-party talks are the way to resolve these issue."

I think it's been a disappointing outcome when I tried to put forward my arguments in the appropriate place and the appropriate way.

Basil McCrea

A number of UUP councillors in Belfast called for action to be taken over Mr McCrea's stance on flying the flag at City Hall.

The issue was discussed by the party executive over the weekend.

Mr McCrea attended a UUP assembly group meeting which unanimously empowered the Assembly commission representative to discuss the issue of flying the flag at Stormont.

However he later said the move was being taken at the wrong time.

A statement from the party said: "Within 48 hours he was quoted in a newspaper as saying 'it was not the right time' to do what he had endorsed.

"Twenty-four hours later, he described Monday's decision as a 'stupid idea' on live radio.

"For the reasons of lack of self-discipline and teamwork, and for those reasons only, he has left me no choice but to remove the party whip with immediate effect."

DRD Minister Danny Kennedy said Mr McCrea had "failed to discharge his duties in a fashion of teamwork with collective responsibility".

"The party have shown its clear leadership on the issue of flags, and other issues and Basil has failed to accept that publicly," he said.

Mr McCrea said he stands by his recent statements, saying "it was time that somebody was speaking out for the ordinary people of this country".

He said he would be "keeping an open mind" about his position within the Ulster Unionist Party.

He added: "I am going to reflect with my colleagues, the people I hold nearest and dearest, and I am going to reflect on what is the right thing to do for the people of Northern Ireland and for my electorate."

However South Down MLA John McCallister said the decision to remove the party whip from Basil McCrea was "unnecessary".

"The statement that Basil put out, was measured, sensible," he told UTV.

"I mean we have had an absolutely appalling ten days in Northern Ireland, the damage to our economy, to our small businesses, to traders in Belfast, and the reputation of Northern Ireland has been absolutely appalling.

"How can politicians and political leaders not be coming out and saying 'we have to find a better way of doing this' or finding agreement on these very difficult issues?"

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Joe in Belfast wrote (779 days ago):
If the Unionist party had a teeny bit of sense...Mike "lookat my hairdo" Nesbitt would never have got a look in.Macro politic was never Mike's baby.A Justin Bieberfield interview or pretend impartialty slot was all the great man could muster.A cheap man in a cheap will always be a cheap man in a cheap suit.
Joe in Belfast wrote (779 days ago):
Unionism needs to make peace with Nationalism.Once we get over that one we are OK.We can't ignore or throw bricks at each other for ever and a day.We entrust our lives to mandated men with various agendas.A mandated man is a respected man/woman.Certain things that happened in the grey oid past will never happen again because we won't let it happen again.One man one vote sounds dated these days.Probably the biggest thing that democracy allows your averave Paddy or Billy is a single vote.Use it or don't cry "Foul" every time democracy hits you with a bad dose of reality.
peter in derry wrote (779 days ago):
The breakup of the union is inevitable, the flag will seize to exist anyway within 10-20 years, possibly sooner, and it won't be because of men in wooly hats; it will be announced within Westminster.
Davy in Lisburn wrote (779 days ago):
UUP can expect nothing else from an ex TV autocue reader. They are about to disappear from view which started with Trimble when he brought terrorists into government. Unionists now only have 2 choices at the next election, the TUV or UKIP because a vote for the DUPed is a vote for IRA/Sinn Fein. Time for Unionists to wise up and get out and vote in numbers
Louis in lurgan wrote (779 days ago):
The uup has got to be the party for sadomasochists.With all that disicipline. Why do you never hear of other political party members being desciplined. Are all the bad guys in the uup? or have they not found a real leader yet? I think Basil is a hell of a guy and been one for quite a while and I hope he joins sien fein or the Alliance party.
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