Ken Maginnis: I will be nowhere near UUP conference
Former Ulster Unionist heavyweight Ken Maginnis says he definitely won’t be at next weekend’s annual party conference.
The 72-year-old has been on holiday in Switzerland visiting his grandchildren and is scheduled to return to Northern Ireland on Friday or Saturday.
Baron Maginnis said he wouldn’t be going anywhere near the UUP’s meeting even if he arrived back from London in time.
He joked that he wouldn’t be seen outside the Titanic Building with a ‘Sack Nesbitt’ placard.
“I don’t need that sort of publicity, and anyway the shop didn’t have a dinosaur costume big enough to fit me,” he quipped.
Senior party sources say that leader Mike Nesbitt is disappointed that the dispute with the former UDR major hasn’t been resolved amicably, but is determined to forge ahead with his leadership agenda.
The peer attacked Nesbitt’s leadership just five months after throwing his weight behind the former television anchorman’s bid for the job.
Following a much publicised row over the former MP’s comments on homosexuality and gay marriage, Lord Maginnis described Mr Nesbitt’s elevation to the leadership as a “mistake” and called on him to resign.
Sources close to the UUP leader said: “It is ‘move on’ time. This issue with Ken could have been resolved.
“There is no point in opening it up with any further comments”.
It’s understood that Mr Nesbitt is irritated with suggestions from supporters of Baron Maginnis that he has been engaged in a purge of former leading figures.
They point out that Lord Empey, Jim Nicholson and Tom Elliott continue to play major roles in the party.
He remained unabashed about criticism of his views on homosexuality and gay marriage and said that he has received huge support on the streets for his views.
“I’m going to need physiotherapy because of the number of people shaking my hand and congratulating me for standing up for the constitution of marriage,” he added.