Conservatives’ co-chairmen quit after poor election result

Irwin Armstrong, who was chairman of the NI Conservatives
Irwin Armstrong, who was chairman of the NI Conservatives

The co-chairmen of the Conservative Party in Northern Ireland have stood down, with a former Ulster Unionist member taking over as chairman.

The party said that Irwin Armstrong and Trevor Ringland had stepped down at the party’s AGM on Wednesday night and Harry Cullen had been elected unopposed to succeed them.

Mr Armstrong became chairman in 2010 but in more recent times operated as joint chairman alongside Mr Ringland.

The NI Conservatives said that the two men remained “completely committed to introducing proper, centre-right politics to Northern Ireland” and would stay in the party.

Mr Armstrong said that he was standing aside “due to business commitments and incredible pressure on my time”, while Mr Ringland said: “It is time for some people to step aside, but the likes of Mark Brotherston and others will make sure that there is a strong Conservative brand at the next election and many elections into the future”.

However, it is likely that the party’s poor showing in May’s elections played a part in the decision.

The party failed to win a single council seat across the Province, something which even the small People Before Profit Alliance managed to do.

In the European election, the Tory candidate took just 0.7 per cent of the vote.

Mr Cullen, a Portstewart businessman, will take over from Mr Armstrong as a member of the Conservative Party’s national board.