PUP leader David Ervine is reportedly set to become a member of the Ulster Unionist group in the new Northern Ireland Assembly.

It is understood an official approach was made to him on Friday, ahead of the assembly being recalled on Monday.

The PUP executive has held talks and Mr Ervine will remain its leader.

However, the move could mean the UUP receiving an extra ministerial post if there is agreement and the d’Hondt formula is put into operation. (BBC News)

This is a remarkable turn-up for the books given the UUP’s repeated use of the paramilitary issue to justify refusing to enter Government with Sinn Fein.

Consider the words of David Trimble after Stormontgate in 2002:

We will not be satisfied with some phantom disbandment. The paramilitaries really do have to go away. Their day is over.

But please note, I said “paramilitaries” – plural!

This message goes out to loyalists as well. People are fed up to the back-teeth with the racketeering and feuding that is disguised as loyalism.  (Politics.ie)

Mr Ervine is the leading political representative of the UVF, which has not decommissioned a single gun. According to the IMC, "the organisation is active, violent and ruthless, and the recent statement from a spokesman that it does not intend to do more before 24 November 2006 is not encouraging." (10th IMC report, p18)

Will the next IMC report include a section on the UUP? Will the party’s Westminster allowances be docked if UVF activity continues? Will it’s assembly ministers be considered for exclusion?

I don’t think the nationalist parties will be arguing for any of these things. There have always been links between unionists and loyalists, but they are usually only visible at times of crisis, such as most recently, last year’s Whiterock Parade. Perhaps it’s better that they’re out in the open.






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