25 June 2005

BreakingNews.ie

I won’t join assembly with Sinn Féin, says Empey

24/06/2005 - 23:39:19



New Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey tonight insisted that his party would not go into government with Sinn Féin in the lifetime of the current suspended Stormont Assembly.

“I made it clear in my literature that this party will not participate in an executive which includes Sinn Fein in the lifetime of this Assembly,” the East Belfast MLA said.

“I made it clear at four meetings this week. That has been my position.”

As he celebrated victory in a close run leadership contest to succeed David Trimble, the former Stormont Economy Minister vowed to bring forward fresh talent from within the UUP.

He also criticised the British government for allowing politics to be paralysed with a moribund Assembly.

The 58-year-old UUP leader was forced into a second count in the leadership contest by north Down Assembly member Alan McFarland.

At the end of the first round of voting, there were 29 votes between the two candidates. But after the distribution of 54 votes for the third candidate, David McNarry, Sir Reg emerged victorious, with 21 votes to Mr McFarland’s 287.

Sitting beside his wife Stella and surrounded by supporters, including MEP Jim Nicolson and Assembly members Danny Kennedy and Michael Copeland, Sir Reg reminded opponents that he would not contemplate sharing power with Sinn Féin in the near future.

Sir Reg said he hoped that the Government would wake up to the fact that politics should not be paralysed in Northern Ireland with a moribund Assembly at a time when local politicians should be taking key education and health decisions.

He also vowed that the Ulster Unionists would work together as a united team.

After the heavy losses of last months Westminster and local government local elections, and anxious to put years of internal feuding behind the party, the new UUP leader declared: “We are going to use our talents.

“We are drawing a line. We are going to try and start afresh.”

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