ONE of Londonderry’s most senior unionists has confirmed he will not be renewing his membership of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).
Terry Wright, a lifelong member of the UUP and until recently, Deputy Chair of the party as well as Chair of the Foyle Unionist Association, confirmed the move in a statement released a short time ago. Mr Wright had indicated his unease with the current set-up within the UUP for sometime, but it will still come as a shock to many that such a senior figure within the organisation in the North West has chosen to step away after many decades involvement. However, he has indicated today that he has no current plans to align himself to any other political party. But, he did describe the current make-up of the UUP as “survivalist rather than principled.”
In the statement. Mr Wright said: “ I have today advised the UUP that I will not be renewing my subscription for the 2013.
“I have been considering my membership for some time and have discussed my concerns with former senior colleagues in the UUP and valued friends in Foyle.
“At the party AGM I supported John MacCallister MLA mainly because of his stand on taking the party into Opposition. It is a matter of record that the overwhelming view of the party reflected in the comprehensive victory of Mike Nesbitt MLA was for an alternative strategy.
“Since that time I have grown uneasy with the direction in which the UUP seems to be travelling with particular regard to a closer relationship with the DUP. In addition I remain of the view that the UUP should give renewed consideration to going into Opposition although admittedly, given its internal difficulties, it is now in a weaker position than before.
“At the Party Conference the Party Leader referring to the Mid-Ulster Bye-election seemed to send a codified message regarding unionist co-operation. Around the celebration of the Covenant there were clear indications of greater linkage with the DUP and this has been evident again over the flag protests and the Political Forum.
“I find the working for the greater good of Unionism and stronger linkage or unity of purpose and strategy between the UUP and the DUP a contradiction in terms.
“It is survivalist rather than principled. It is not the inclusive, open and participative unionism to which I believe Unionist must aspire. It condemns politics and the country to choice by labelling and tribal identity
“Clearly there are those within the UUP who take a different view and it is this divergence in approach which leads to differences in tactics and strategy too often manifested in public squabbling and personality clashes.
“It runs through the party like a fault-line and erodes the confidence and morale of members at a local level.
“Against the current nature and state of politics in the country a party can no longer function as a broad church. It needs core values to which the party members can adhere and give their disciplined commitment without feeling their conscience and principles compromised. Perhaps the decision to which I have come, if it is in any way typical of others, will produce this by default.
“I have felt increasingly unclear as what the core values are and the tactical and strategic moves which are taking place run counter to those which I would favour. There was and is an opportunity for the UUP to show leadership in challenging old ideas and re-defining Unionism for a modern era but it has been passed by for options which have failed before and will fail again. The journey that was begun by the UUP under the Good Friday Agreement has stalled
“I have respected the choice of the party in its choice of leader. I do not know the Party Leader Mike Nesbitt MLA well and have observed his leadership only from a distance. His task is not an easy one for the UUP is a party easier to lead than command.
“When he addressed the East Londonderry AGM last week in Limavady I was in attendance and detected little difference in our unionism, However when I read of the plans over Mid-Ulster and set this alongside other trends and actions it seemed to me that tactics and strategy are out of line with the unionism which I felt had been articulated.
I have had a long association with the Unionist party. I was Chairman of the Waterside Young Unionist Association, Londonderry in the late 1960s and after a lapse of some years became fully active in the party again in the early 1990s.
“I served as Association Chairman for the Foyle Constituency for eight years and was a Party Officer in the UUP for two years before being elected Deputy Chairman of the Party. I was re-elected to this position but felt obliged to stand-down in 2011 due to the position which I took in the Foyle Constituency regarding the funding for a Radiotherapy Centre.
“I have many friends within the party and will continue to support Alderman Mary Hamilton in the Foyle Constituency. I trust and believe that I will retain those friendships.
I have no plans to link with any other party at this time and will wait to see what political developments take place.”