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UUP MP Ken Maginnis on BBC Radio Ulster
"I have no intention, if God spares me, of going away"
 real 28k

The BBC's Tom Coulter
"Whoever suceeds Ken Maginnis is guaranteed a tough fight to hold the seat"
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Friday, 5 January, 2001, 14:05 GMT
Unionist MP to stand down
Ken Maginnis and David Trimble
Headache for Trimble as Maginnis steps down
Ulster Unionist MP Ken Maginnis has confirmed he will not be standing for re-election at the next General Election.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, the 62-year-old MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone said he was standing aside and was hopeful the seat could be retained by the party.

He said he would not be getting involved in the succession race which is likely to pit the pro-Good Friday Agreement faction of the party against the anti-agreement wing.

But he said he is considering getting involved in local government and would continue to work in the UUP at party level.

I've come through 18 years of ups and downs - I've seen the absolute downer of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

Ken Maginnis
Mr Maginnis has had a high profile due to his role as the UUP security spokesman and has held the Fermanagh/South Tyrone seat for 18 years.

He is strongly pro-Good Friday Agreement and is seen as one of the closest allies of embattled party leader David Trimble.

His announcement will come as another blow to the pro-agreement faction of the UUP, after the party lost its formerly safe South Antrim seat to the anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party's William McCrea in the September 2000 by-election.

This followed another blow to the pro-agreement section of the party when anti-agreement assembly member Peter Wier was selected to fight the general election for North Down.

Mr Maginnis' seat was previously held by Bobby Sands, the IRA man who died on hunger strike in 1981. Mr Maginnis won the seat from Owen Carron, Bobby Sands' election agent who succeeded him following his death in May 1981.

Ken Maginnis: Wants to stay involved in local politics
Ken Maginnis: High profile as security spokesman
Mr Maginnis said his decision to stand down was prompted by a desire to work to his own schedule and not by criticism from anti-agreement colleagues.

He said: "I've come through 18 years of ups and downs. I've seen the absolute downer of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

"Although I'm standing down as MP, I have no intention, if God spares me, of going away."

A former member of the disbanded Ulster Defence Regiment, he said that health had not been a factor in his decision, saying the "engine's still good".

There have been a number of paramilitary attempts on his life and he was assaulted last year while attending a family meal in a Chinese restaurant.

He said the constituency could go either way and acknowledged that an agreed nationalist candidate could win the seat at the next election.

"If you do a sectarian headcount in Fermanagh/South Tyrone, it is touch and go," he added.

"I believe unionism can hold the seat particularly because unionism, and I mean Ulster Unionism, has been constructive. We have tackled the problems."

Prominent anti-agreement unionist Arlene Foster is one of those who is expected to contest the selection process.

The constituency association is scheduled to hold its selection meeting on 29 January.

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See also:

05 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Ken Maginnis: Profile
02 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Trimble may face 'no confidence' vote
29 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Are the knives out for David Trimble?
19 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Unionist quits poll contest
15 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
UUP chief whip denied candidacy
16 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Ulster Unionist candidacy row
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