Belfast Telegraph

UUP's Danny Kennedy calls for unionist unity after brutal election result

By Staff Reporter

A call has been made for unionist parties to engage in talks to agree a way forward.

Former Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy spoke out last night a week after a brutal election for the movement.

Some 16 former unionist MLAs lost their seats, and there is now a non-unionist majority at Stormont for the first time since devolution.

Mr Kennedy told the BBC's The View programme that there needed to be a conversation about the way forward.

"(To) everyone in the house of unionism, I think there's now a duty to open the connecting doors which have been locked between the various factions... the various interests within unionism," he added.

"It's time to unlock those doors and to allow a deep conversation and a genuine assessment as to where we are."

However he added that he did not believe the Union was in any danger.

"I think in any referendum a majority of the population will still vote to remain part of the United Kingdom, but I think we do need a conversation within unionism as to how best we now move forward," Mr Kennedy said.

Former DUP special advisor Wallace Thompson agreed that unionists needed to talk.

Mr Thompson, who worked for Nigel Dodds at the Department of Finance, suggested setting up a unionist council.

"Unity might have its merits, but it's not a panacea and while I would like to see unionists coming together it might be better done through a form of unionist council as in the 70s," he said.

"If you're going to have one party, there's only one party people can unite behind and that is the DUP.

"What we as unionists need to do is recognise we are faced with a significant proportion of the people of Northern Ireland now voting, sadly from our point of view, for Sinn Fein.

"We need to reach out as best we can in a spirit of compromise. Compromise is part of life, but it has to work both ways."

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