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Sunday, 25 November, 2001, 16:29 GMT
Rebel unionist considers DUP move
Peter Weir
Peter Weir was expelled from the Ulster Unionist Party
The independent unionist Peter Weir, has said he has not ruled out joining the anti-Agreement Democratic Unionist Party.

A former Ulster Unionist Party member, Mr Weir was expelled from the party earlier this month for failing to support leader David Trimble's nomination to be re-elected as Northern Ireland First Minister.

On Saturday the DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson called for anti-Agreement Ulster Unionists to join his party.

Mr Robinson was speaking at the party's 30th anniversary conference in Newcastle, County Down, where he said the Ulster Unionist Party had "had its day".


I think anti-Agreement unionists on the whole have to assess how they can co-ordinate their efforts an awful lot better

Peter Weir MLA

However, Mr Weir said it was too early to decide.

"I am ruling nothing in and nothing out," he said.

"What I am saying is that there is a bigger issue of how unionists focus on issues such as decommissioning and amnesty.

"I think anti-Agreement unionists on the whole have to assess how they can co-ordinate their efforts an awful lot better."

David Trimble failed in his initial attempts to be re-elected to the post when the North Down assembly member and another dissident party member, Pauline Armitage, voted with the DUP against him.

Mrs Armitage was suspended from the party following a disciplinary hearing.

Both members were accused of conduct detrimental to the interests of Ulster Unionism by ignoring the direct advice of the party's ruling executive and failing to back their party leader as first minister.

Peter Robinson DUP deputy leader
Peter Robinson: Called on anti-Agreement unionists to join DUP

Mr Weir had been suspended from the party earlier this year for three months for refusing to toe the party line in assembly votes.

He objected to the panel that expelled him from the party on the grounds that it was the same as that which had previously disciplined him.

He said it amounted to "being tried by a kangaroo court".

Although Mr Trimble gained an overall majority in the vote to re-elect him as first minister, he failed to gain a majority within the unionist bloc in the assembly because of the way the two dissident members voted.

Many of the assembly's key votes must have the backing of a majority within both the nationalist and unionist blocs to be carried.

Mr Trimble was only able to gain election along with deputy first minister and SDLP leader elect Mark Durkan on Tuesday after the centre Alliance Party agreed to redesignate three of its members as unionist in a second vote.


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See also:

02 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Peter Weir: The barrister rebel
02 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Pauline Armitage: Dissenting ex-soldier
02 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble fails in vote for top post
15 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Ulster Unionist Party reinstate Weir
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