McCrea to form NI party with McCallister


Stormont politicians John McCallister and Basil McCrea, who earlier this month resigned from the Ulster Unionist Party, last night announced they are to form a new unionist party that will act as an opposition within the Assembly.

Mr McCallister, MLA for South Down and Mr McCrea, representing Lagan Valley, said it was clear that when a recent poll showed that a significant majority of people in the North supported the union with Britain, “pro-union parties should not be leading a retreat into sectarian trenches”.

“It is time for a confident, generous, progressive pro-union party to step forward and build support for a modern Northern Ireland,” they added.

Both politicians, who on separate occasions unsuccessfully contested the leadership of the UUP, have been unhappy with the leadership of Mike Nesbitt and with what they contend is a movement toward a formal or informal link between the Ulster Unionists and the DUP.

The trigger for the two Assembly members quitting the Ulster Unionist Party was earlier this month when the DUP and the UUP leaders Peter Robinson and Mr Nesbitt agreed to run a unionist unity candidate, Nigel Lutton, in next week’s Mid-Ulster Westminster byelection.