UUP MLA Sandra Overend has responded to DUP MLA Ian McCrea’s statement in which he said Ms Overend and her party colleague Cookstown Councillor Trevor Wilson were ‘using the issue of the Maze development to play party politics’ to divide unionism.
Responding to the statement statement, Sandra said, “It is disappointing but perhaps not surprising that Ian McCrea uses the media to attack a fellow unionist, accusing the Ulster Unionist Party of dividing unionism, himself using divisive and derisory language against my Party, especially considering the fact that it was his party who divided unionism over 40 years ago – dividing and weakening unionism was the centre of Paisley unionism for decades.
“The U-turn on the Maze project by the DUP has certainly been welcomed, as Ian admits, by many victims and various organisations, and by the Ulster Unionist Party.
“Ian suggests that the decision arose ‘because of the outrageous behaviour of Sinn Fein and the opposition to the recent actions of republicans which has drawn the unionism community together’. The decision actually arose because of the DUP’s realisation that they were the only unionists in support of the Maze project and they felt exposed. Of course, their U-turn brought unionists together; the DUP catch up with the Ulster Unionists again.
“Just like in many other areas of concern to the Mid-Ulster constituents, Ian plays catch up to Ulster Unionists, whether that be in the offering of Farm Safety days or Childcare costs advice, broadband or gas to the west, you will find Ian following my lead on many issues. They do say that imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery.
“Ian then went on to accuse my party of misinformation, which is amazing when he is obviously ignoring the fact that Edwin Poots put his hand up for the Maze development plan and it was Edwin Poots who chaired a planning meeting of Lisburn Council on 12 Feb 2004 at which the Ulster Unionist Party tabled a motion expressing its opposition to any of the Maze Prison Buildings being retained as a museum.
“Instead of attacking the Ulster Unionist Party for being right about opposing a terrorist shrine at the Maze, Ian McCrea and the DUP should simply accept that they were wrong and move on. We and other Unionists need no history lessons from the DUP about their various U-turns for political gain. Ian and the DUP were the ones who said that they would never go into government with Sinn Fein, yet look where they are now.
“At the end of the day, I am encouraged by Ian saying that he is well aware of the views of the people of Mid-Ulster on the Maze issue; I`m glad that he and his party got there eventually.”