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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Unionist calls for 'united strategy'
Ulster unionists will decide next month whether to stay in government
An Ulster Unionist Party MP has called for his party to hold a united unionist convention with the Democratic Unionist Party next month to discuss political strategy and tactics.

South Antrim MP David Burnside made the call to the anti-Agreement DUP on Thursday.

However, the DUP leader Ian Paisley said the UUP should end their coalition with Sinn Fein before the two parties can do business.

Unionists had been calling on the prime minister to place sanctions on Sinn Fein over alleged IRA involvement in the break-in at Belfast's police headquarters in March and of training guerillas in Colombia.

David Burnside: South Antrim Ulster Unionist Party MP
David Burnside: Calling for unity between the two main unionist parties

However, in a statement to the House of Commons last month, Tony Blair stopped short of sanctions, saying any future breach of loyalist or republican ceasefires would be met with a "rigorous" response.

A decision on whether the UUP will pull out of the Stormont executive has been put off until September.

In a speech to young unionists in Lisburn on Thursday, Mr Burnside suggested that the different strands of unionism should act together rather than fighting amongst themselves.

Mr Burnside said the UUP president Martin Smyth should host a convention next month bringing his party together with the DUP and smaller unionist groups in order to agree a bottom line for renegotiating the Good Friday Agreement.

However, Mr Paisley claims Mr Burnside isn't acting to save the Union, but trying to save his party from being decimated at the next Assembly election in May 2003.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's political correspondent Mark Devenport:
"David Burnside makes no secret of his scepticism about the peace process"
Find out more about the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process

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See also:

27 Jul 02 | N Ireland
19 Apr 02 | N Ireland
24 Apr 02 | N Ireland
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