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28 August 2003 Edition

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UUC cannot have veto over process

Another Ulster Unionist Council meeting has been scheduled for September, which is being billed as a 'showdown' between David Trimble's supporters and those of Jeffrey Donaldso et al. On Tuesday, Trimble declared that the meeting would mark a true "defining moment" for the Ulster Unionist Party.

On Tuesday, the UUP officer board heard evidence that anti-Agreement unionists had been within their rights in requisaitioning the meeting. Both Trimble and Donaldson were present. Donaldson, Martin Smyth and David Burnside are facing expulsion from the UUP for resigning the party whip at Westminster. The disciplinary action has been deferred until after the UUC meets.

Commenting on the news, North Belfast Sinn Féin representative Gerry Kelly said that the UUC must not be allowed to have a veto over the peace process.

"Over the past five years, the continual pandering to negative unionism by the British government has resulted in the peace process becoming stalled and many aspects of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement remain outstanding," he said.

"Internal difficulties within the UUP are no excuse for the continual stalling of key aspects of the Equality and Human Rights agenda, which is at the core of the Agreement.

"People did not vote for the implementation of the parts of the Agreement which elements of the UUP are comfortable with. They voted for the full implementation of the Agreement and these rights and entitlements cannot be contingent on the outcome of a UUC meeting."

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