A SENIOR Ulster Unionist has broken ranks to urge his party and the DUP to renew work on an electoral pact before the upcoming General Election.
UUP finance spokesman David McNarry contacted the News Letter in "frustration" after what he described as "a cooling of talks" between the leaderships of the two parties.
"The larger unionist family wants to see a realignment take place and quickly," he said.
A poll yesterday reported that 63 per cent of Protestants believed the UUP was wrong to dismiss an electoral pact with the DUP.
However, Mr McNarry said that the premise of the survey question was incorrect and that the UUP had dismissed a merger with the DUP - not a pact.
"The two parties should get together to thrash out a win of 13 seats at Westminster and to return 50-plus seats at the next Assembly election," he said.
Unionism cannot allow the "goodwill" from recent UUP-DUP talks, sponsored by the Orange Order and the Tories, to disappear, said Mr McNarry.
"But the fact is that talks since then have virtually stopped. I want to see them resurrected immediately and will be doing all I can among my party to push in that direction."
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds agreed yesterday that the desire for unionist unity was "palpable".
But he appeared to blame the UUP for lack of progress on a pact, referring to yesterday's poll.
"The desire within the Protestant community for unionist unity is palpable," he said.