Council meeting to mark another 'defining moment' for UUP
A "final showdown" in the ongoing feud within the Ulster Unionist
will take place next month following legal advice to the party's
The twelfth meeting of the party's ruling Ulster Unionist Council to
debate the 1998 Good Friday Agreement since the peace deal was signed
was given the go-ahead after doubts were raised over its legal
The hardline camp, led by Jeffrey Donaldson, wants the threat of
disciplinary action lifted against three members of parliament -- Mr
Donaldson, David Burnside, and Martin Smyth -- who face potential
expulsion for defying party orders at the Westminster parliament in
Mr Smyth said after the meeting that the UUC would take place in "early
September" but explained that a specific date and venue was yet to
The motion before the delegates will call for an end to the
disciplinary process currently in train against the three MPs, and is
likely to be supplemented by a counter-motion placed by Mr Trimble.
Trimble has won all previous showdowns by a margin of some 60-80 votes
Party leader David Trimble expressed confidence that he would win the
vote at the UUC. Asked did he think those who had tabled the UUC motion
had a chance of winning, he replied bluntly, "No, I don't."
"It is perfectly clear there is a settled view within the party.
be by a narrow majority, but there is a settled view. What is at stake
here is the question of the direction of the party, and the question of
whether what we have been endeavouring to do over the past four or five
years is right or not," he added.
When Mr Donaldson was asked did he think he would win the UUC vote, he
said there was "very little appetite" within the UUP for disciplinary
action against him and his colleagues.
"People just want to see this set aside now, and let's get down to
politics and the issues that need to be addressed," he added.
Mr Trimble said it was always clear that this issue was going to go
back to a Council meeting. "And, if I may coin a phrase, that meeting
will be a defining moment for the party. I hope that it will result in
matters being settled in such a way that we have people abiding by the
decisions of the Council," he added.
Mr Trimble would not comment on the possibility of a split in the UUP.
But he said, "there is no point going to a Council meeting unless
people are going to accept that result. I assume, therefore, that those
people who requisitioned this meeting intend accepting the result
because there will be a result and that result I hope will put an end
to that which we have had to endure over the past weeks and months".
Few believe the dispute can come to a conclusion without the departure
of either Mr Donaldson or Mr Trimble from the party, and the prospect
for a compromise has become more distant with the decision to hold
another UUC meeting.
Mr Trimble, meanwhile, has begun a "whistle-stop" tour of the
18 constituencies yesterday, meeting party officers and grassroots
members. His internal opponents described these meetings as a
"charade", claiming that Mr Trimble was only meeting Ulster
sympathetic to his views and policies.