Irwin Armstrong resigns over UUP agreement
Irwin Armstrong, the Chairman of the Conservative Party in Northern Ireland, has today announced he will be standing down from his post following an agreement between his party and the Ulster Unionist Party.
The UUP released a statement concerning their relationship with the Conservative Party in which they announced that the Conservatives would not be putting forward any candidates in the Assembly elections of May 2011.
Following the annoucement, Mr Armstrong said that his position was untenable, and that he would have to think long and hard before renewing his membership of the Conservative Party:
The decision will effectively disband the Conservatives in Northern Ireland, as the sole reason for a political party is to contest elections.
Mr Armstrong said that he had been told by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, that the Conservatives would be fielding candidates in the election:
He rang me up and said it had been agreed we would be running candidates. In politics you talk to your colleagues and you accept that’s what they mean. In this case, somehow, that decision was changed and I wasn’t consulted.
Mr Armstrong became Chairman in June and wanted to see a clean break from the UUP following the disastrous decision to field joint candidates in all Northern Irish constituencies at the general election which saw them win none of Northern Ireland’s 18 seats.
Even that decision didn’t go off without a hitch.
But regardless of this, the decision might tell a lot about the relationship between the central party and the devolved party.