UUP chief tells of 'shame' over Orange Order's stance
The UUP chairman has spoken of his "shame and disgust" that an Orange Order lodge attempted to discipline party leader Tom Elliott for attending the funeral Mass of murdered RUC constable Ronan Kerr.
David Campbell, who is also an Orangeman, told the party conference the institution had been brought into "serious disrepute" by the episode
And he said by attending the funeral Mass Mr Elliott and the deputy leader Danny Kennedy, who also faced a disciplinary hearing, had "exhibited a greater Christian charity that those lodge members can ever hope to".
Both Mr Elliott and the Regional Development Minister were cleared by their respective county lodges who said they had "no case to answer" and there would be no disciplinary procedures.
The members of St Simon's LOL 821 from Sandy Row in Belfast which lodged the complaint can still appeal. Mr Campbell said he had also been angered that no Ulster Unionist had been invited to the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the IRA killing of former MP, the Rev Robert Bradford, apparently because the House of Commons authorities believed he had been a DUP MP.
The South Belfast MP, who stood for Vanguard before joining the UUP the year before his election, was shot dead as he conducted his morning 'surgery' in Finaghy on November 14, 1981.
Meanwhile, the UUP intends to conduct what it says will be the largest political polling ever conducted in Northern Ireland to try to ascertain why so many unionist voters are staying away from the polls and failing to support the party.
Mr Kennedy said since taking over the Regional Development department in May he had attempted to clean up the "mess" left by his predecessor, Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein.