DUP Stormont minister Arlene Foster has backed her party leader — against his predecessor — on the goal of establishing a single unionist party.
In a statement Mrs Foster gave her endorsement to Peter Robinson's calls for unionist unity moves leading towards a single party.
Last week, ex-DUP leader Ian Paisley — now Lord Bannside — voiced his opposition to the idea.
Mrs Foster, in a statement yesterday, said: “People will know that I started my political career as a member of the Ulster Unionist Party.
“We have at our core more that unites us than divides us. I do not want to see the unity agenda slip from people's consciousness. I want us to start exploring the common ground to find ways in which we can ensure that unionism is punching its full weight in electoral contests.”
Mrs Foster, Stormont Enterprise Minister and Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA, added: “Recently my party leader Peter Robinson outlined the DUP's approach to the whole question of unionist unity. Peter rightly said that the long-term goal must be the creation of a single unionist party.
“That is what the unionist community wants to see happen. Whilst a single party is beyond reach at the moment there are many smaller steps that can be taken. Let us start building now for the future.
“People are fed up hearing reasons why unity cannot happen. They want to see us making it a reality.”
In an article last week, former DUP leader Lord Bannside said: “The unionist community here has more choice available to them today than they ever had.
“Limiting that choice is not in the interests of the province but merely in the interests of those who want power.”