"Conservative Northern Ireland spokesman Owen Paterson has said he is seeking an urgent meeting with Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey. It follows revelations the Orange Order convened secret unity talks between the DUP and UUP in early December.The BBC goes on to say that:
The parties discussed the possibility of electoral pacts and forming a unionist bloc at Stormont. However, the talks did not involve the Tories, the Ulster Unionist Party's current election partner.
Mr Paterson said he knew nothing about the meeting which was exposed by the BBC's Hearts and Minds, and would not comment any further until he had talked with Sir Reg."
"Some in Belfast think that the Conservative-UUP pact is now effectively dead, and that Conservative leader David Cameron will be forced to announce its demise within the next few days."Jeffrey Peel, who was always vocally opposed to the UCUNF project commented that:
"… the Conservative UUP relationship could not survive this. Sir Reg's words about establishing non-sectarian politics here ring very hollow indeed when, in the course of supposedly doing a deal with the Conservatives, he was having tri-partite meetings with the Orange Order and DUP."The question in all this is who really was the fool. Were the UUP foolish to think that the Tories really cared about them, as opposed to just about gaining power in London, or were the Tories foolish to think that the UUP had actually changed? At the time of the UCUNF non-merger there were many voices raised in warning, but none were heeded. Now it seems that the dreary steeples are emerging once again.