Fury as Nesbitt says UUP must apologise for parts of Good Friday deal
Beleaguered Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt is embroiled in a new row ahead of the party's annual general meeting.
Ex-UUP members John McCallister and Basil McCrea attacked their former leader after he said the UUP had to learn to say sorry for aspects of the Good Friday Agreement.
Marking the end of his first year in office, Mr Nesbitt also described the Agreement as "imperfect". The remarks were last night lambasted as a disgrace by former colleagues Mr McCallister and Mr McCrea who plan to launch their own party after Easter.
Speaking at a public meeting in Lisburn, Mr Nesbitt said: "The Belfast Agreement was imperfect.
"We have to stand up ... we will have to learn to apologise for (our party's) part in that."
An astonished Mr McCallister described the comments as "bizarre".
"He seems to have completely lost his way in where he is leading the party. It is just frankly bizarre. I voted 'yes' in 1998," he said.
"He should be championing an Agreement that was the crowning achievement for the party," he added.
Mr McCrea said he was willing to challenge Mr Nesbitt to a public debate on the merits of the Agreement.
"His comments are a disgrace," said the unionist rebel.
"I am not a member of the party anymore but I think it is appalling and it must call his leadership into question."
Mr Nesbitt was not immediately available for further comment.
story so far
The resignations of Basil McCrea and John McCallister from the UUP were the latest in a series of departures since Mike Nesbitt became leader. Lord Maginnis quit after a row with Mr Nesbitt, who refused to allow David McNarry back in the ranks while Fred Cobain also left.