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UUP leader, David Trimble
"I want the government to stand by the agreement"
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BBC's David Eades in David Trimble's constituency
"Some of his constituents believe he is proving too much of a soft touch"
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Saturday, 23 September, 2000, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
MP claims phone was bugged
Jeffrey Donaldson ( right) with party leader David Trimble
Jeffrey Donaldson (right) with party leader David Trimble
A dissident Ulster Unionist MP has claimed his telephone has been bugged by a special military intelligence unit.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, a fierce critic of the Good Friday Agreement, said he had been given the information by an officer from the Royal Ulster Constabulary.


There is a special unit tasked by the government to undermine people like myself

Jeffrey Donaldson

Speaking on Saturday, he said he had been told that his phone, and up to 30 others belonging to members of the anti-agreement Union First group, had been tapped.

Mr Donaldson said the bugging was aimed at undermining the work done by that group.

"We have a goverment here who are prepared to stoop to any level to undermine political opposition to their particular viewpoint," he said.

"That's what's going on. Let's make no mistake about it.

"There is a special unit tasked by the government to undermine people like myself..... legitimate, elected representatives expressing a democratic view."

He said the line tapping had been revealed by a police officer who liaised with a military intelligence unit at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn, County Antrim.

Reforming links

The Northern Ireland Office declined to say anything about Mr Donaldson's claim.

"We don't comment on stories of this nature," said a spokeswoman.

The claim was made as the Ulster Unionist ruling executive met in Belfast following the party's defeat in the South Antrim by-election.

The meeting, at UUP headquarters in Belfast, was scheduled to discuss a new set of rules which would modernise the party, including plans to reform its links with the Protestant Orange Order.

But the loss of the Ulster Unionists' second safest parliamentary seat to their anti-Good Friday Agreement rivals, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), is also thought to have been discussed.

On Friday, Mr Donaldson was one of the most outspoken critics of the direction which Mr Trimble had led the party, which he said had brought a "disaster" in the by-election.

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See also:

22 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
UUP 'will learn' from election defeat
17 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Unionists debate Orange Order ties
22 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Poll defeat 'disaster' for UUP
22 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Blow to NI peace deal
22 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
The gospel-singing MP
29 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
MP's death adds to pressure on Trimble
15 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Peace process 'at risk' over policing
23 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Trimble: 'Accord at risk over policing'
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