McCartney gets standing ovation at party meeting
There was a standing ovation for the leader of the UK Unionist Party, Mr Robert McCartney, as he took the platform last night at an emergency party meeting in front of a crowd of more than 100 supporters.
The meeting was called to discuss the party's future in the wake of the rift between Mr McCartney and the rest of his Assembly team.
The four dissident UK Unionist Assembly members, currently embroiled in the dispute with Mr McCartney, failed to attend the closed party meeting in Bangor, Co Down.
The deputy party leader, Mr Cedric Wilson, along with Mr Patrick Roche, Mr Norman Boyd and Mr Roger Hutchinson, had announced earlier that they would not be attending the meeting.
Mr McCartney addressed the crowd for more than an hour and a half and gave his version of last week's events. One supporter of the four Assembly members was present at the meeting. Mr McCartney said there would be no expulsions from the party at the present.
Motions tabled from the floor called on the four breakaway Assembly members to give a public explanation for their actions. A motion that the party membership pass a vote of confidence in Mr McCartney was proposed by the chairman of the North Down Constituency Association, Mr Morris Woods, and passed unanimously.
A motion tabled by the chairman of the Strangford Association, Mr Stephen Cooper, removed Mr Cedric Wilson from the position he held as party chief whip.
The motion, which was also passed, stated that the four Assembly members should be removed from all positions that they held in the party except for membership.
The meeting concluded with the party membership insisting that the four Assembly members make themselves available to provide a full account of recent events at the party's annual conference on February 6th.