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Beattie must show he cares about something other than the NI Protocol

4 10 81

In a fortnight’s time, the Ulster Unionist Party stages its most important conference in the last two decades. When Doug Beattie addresses the ranks, just over 200 days from the scheduled Assembly election, he will do so as the first UUP leader since David Trimble to hold realistic hopes of becoming unionism’s standard-bearer.

We have been here many times before, of course, ever since the UUP nose-dived electorally under David Trimble.

False Dawn should win an award for being the party’s most regular conference attendee.

A litany of leaders strived to revive it. Reg Empey and Tom Elliott were consumed by internally reforming a barely manageable outfit. Mike Nesbitt, a decent man, strove to take his party down difficult lanes.

Things got so bad there was talk of a DUP-UUP merger.

It would be akin to one between a cat and a canary, I told BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight.

Buoyed by recapturing two Westminster seats in 2015, Nesbitt, not unfairly, triumphantly crowed “some canary” at that year’s party conference. I squirmed in the conference hall, although we laughed about it later.

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Less than two years later, Nesbitt had quit as leader and those MPs had been ousted, after poor Assembly and general election results. Even canaries normally last a decade.

Nesbitt’s successors, Robin........

© Belfast Telegraph

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