Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 17:19 GMT
Unionist leader faces party split
Support crisis for leader Robert McCartney
The leader of the one of Northern Ireland's unionist parties opposed to the Good Friday Agreement is facing a revolt from leading party members.
Four representatives of the UK Unionist Party in the Northern Ireland Assembly have withdrawn their support from party leader Robert McCartney.
The split follows a row over the party's future strategy.
Deputy leader and chief whip at Stormont Cedric Wilson and Paddy Roche, Norman Boyd and Roger Hutchinson, all said Mr McCartney had made remarks which they saw has "impugned their integrity".
'A lack of judgement'
The party leader claimed the four men had refused to stand by an understanding that their postions in the Assembly would have to be re-considered if Sinn Fein was allowed to take up seats in Stormonts power-sharing executive without any de-commissioning of terrorist weapons.
Mr McCartney said the actions of his colleagues displayed: "A lack of political judgement of quite alarming proportions."
In a joint statement the four Assembly members said they were withdrawing their support from Mr McCartney with "deep regret and sadness".
The statement continued: "We wish to reaffirm our commitment to work with all other anti-agreement unionists to oppose the implementation of the Belfast Agreement and work positively for the restoration of democracy and the consolidation of the Union and the creation of a stable society in Northern Ireland."