Trevor Ringland has been on the Talkback programme within the last few minutes confirming his decision to resign from the Ulster Unionist party. As previously noted here the need to reach across communal barriers, especially in relation to sport has been a guiding principle for Mr Ringland for some time. So Tom Elliott's casual dismissal of attending GAA events was always guaranteed to alienate the former rugby international.and...
In setting out his case, Mr Ringland argued that the UUP should be leading the opposition to what he called the DUP's tendency towards "managed segregation" of Northern Ireland society. That remark takes us back to the Stormont debate on the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy at the end of last month. The debate saw the SDLP accusing Sinn Fein of preferring a "carve up before power sharing".I'm guessing the primary reason he agreed to stand as a UUP candidate all those moons ago was he felt the party, combined with its partners, could and wanted to make a real difference towards that "managed segregation". Others (including myself) felt it was most important that the link-up could push Northern Irish politics closer to what is taken for granted in the rest of the United Kingdom- a secondary consequence of which would inevitably have been a chipping away at that "managed segregation".
However those two targets were individually ranked by different supporters of the UCUNF project, it's surely clear now the UUP of Tom Elliott doesn't regard them as anything approaching priority. Ringland did engage a little bit in "silly politics" with thae original *demand* but I think ultimately he's done the honourable thing by resigning rather than attempting the realpolitik of moulding his own beliefs and principles to those which are now the prevailing ones in the party.
What should disturb those outside the "trad" camp in the UUP is that he obviously feels he will be able to perform a more effective role in the war against sectarian communal separatism by working as an individual now, outside the party rather than within.
Paula Bradshaw has now also hit the road.