McNarry return as MLA ‘unlikely’

MIKE Nesbitt has signalled that David McNarry is unlikely to ever return as an Ulster Unionist MLA.

Last week John McCallister said that if he becomes UUP leader he will expel Mr McNarry, and last night Mr Nesbitt said that he could see no circumstances under which his Strangford running-mate could return as a UUP MLA.

Interviewed for the BBC’s Hearts and Minds programme, Mr Nesbitt said: “I tell you, quite honestly, when I heard the news this morning that he’d been suspended for nine months I was surprised because I thought it was a black and white issue and either you’re in or you’re not in.

“You look at David McNarry – the Government papers that came out last Christmas said that 30 years ago he was criticising the then-leader Jim Molyneaux . . . I cannot see any circumstances under which David McNarry would get my whip as party leader.”

Mr Nesbitt told the programme that despite having been an Ulster Unionist member for just two years and having spent less than a year in the Assembly he believed that his lack of political experience was “not an issue for the party”.

Asked where he was offering “change” for the party, Mr Nesbitt said: “There is no quick fix and that is the first thing to say – there is no quick fix to where we are as the Ulster Unionist Party.

“And the other thing is that if there is a big idea it is not saying ‘Let’s get into bed with David Ervine and the PUP, let’s not have an association with the SDLP and the Conservatives and the DUP for unionist unity is a myth’. If there is a big idea it’s: concentrate on ourselves.”

Asked again about what he wanted to change in the party, Mr Nesbitt said: “We need to be more cohesive as a unit and more coherent in the messages that we offer.

“Nobody is going to vote for a party which appears to be split, which demonstrates ill discipline, particularly in the media, as we have done previously.”

He said the party needed “better policies better communicated” and “a better resourced organisation”.