Belfast Telegraph

McCrea 'happy to say my piece'

Ulster Unionist Basil McCrea has said he relished the opportunity to have his say during a disciplinary hearing.

The outspoken Lagan Valley Assembly member described the three-hour meeting at the UUP headquarters in east Belfast as professional but said officials had given no indication of their determination.

Mr McCrea said: "I am happy that I have had the chance to say my piece. It is hard to know what comes out of these things but I put my case across. I am pretty convinced that I am on the policy. I will stand by what I said and what I did."

Mr McCrea was accompanied in the meeting by a female note-taker. He was not allowed to take a legal representative but arrived at the offices on Belmont Road carrying a large blue file of papers and claimed he had a good case.

The five-person panel questioned him on the stance taken in regard to the Union flag crisis.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt took the disciplinary action after Mr McCrea criticised the party's handling of the flag issue. But Mr McCrea's day of reckoning with party officials had been postponed twice since he had the whip removed last month.

The controversy first flared when Mr McCrea described as a "stupid idea" a joint attempt by the UUP and DUP to get the Assembly Commission to examine whether the flag should be flown more regularly at Stormont.

Mr Nesbitt accused his party colleague of having an "inability to exercise self-discipline" or be a team player. He claimed he was doing enormous damage to the UUP.

However, Mr McCrea has insisted his views are consistent with past UUP policy on flags. He added: "Whether they agree with what I have said, well, that is up to them. I am comfortable as to what I have done."

He said he would have to await the outcome of Friday's hearing before considering his next move. The UUP said the committee would analyse Mr McCrea's representations. A spokesman said: "The determination of the committee will be issued in due course."


From Belfast Telegraph