Jeff and Chekov have beaten me to it…but it looks like we have got our answer from Conservative HQ this morning from Baroness Warsi (to whom Mr Paterson obviously passed on our email;)):
The Conservative Party in Northern Ireland has committed itself to an ongoing programme of campaigning and development and will shortly move into a new campaign headquarters in Bangor, Co. Down. A full time member of staff will be based at the headquarters and one of the Party’s most senior campaign directors has been appointed to liaise with the Party in Northern Ireland.Busy at the moment, there will be a longer post following later on.
The Party is committed to the development of progressive centre right politics which offer the electorate of Northern Ireland the opportunity to cast their votes for and participate directly with the national Government of the United Kingdom. The Party will continue to review how Conservatives in Northern Ireland can play a full part in the Conservative Party as in every other part of the United Kingdom and senior Conservatives in Northern Ireland will work with the Board of the Party to develop that relationship.
Central to that development will be the Party’s desire to see Conservative Associations formed in every Northern Ireland constituency and an active programme of membership recruitment at a local level.
Conservative Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi said: “The Conservative Party in Northern Ireland has the unequivocal support of the Party nationally. Politics in Northern Ireland continues to evolve and we are determined to be at the heart of that evolution. Our approach will be one of active engagement – starting with the fielding of candidates in the Local Council elections in May.”
Armstrong returns as Chairman of the local Conservatives
The Conservative Party in Northern Ireland today announced that Irwin Armstrong had resumed his position as Chairman of the local party.
Irwin Armstrong commented.
“When I tendered my resignation in December I said it was untenable for me to remain as Chairman since it appeared that the party in Northern Ireland would no longer be able to contest elections and that I did not have the support of the leadership.
Today’s announcement from our joint Chairman Baroness Warsi confirms the unequivocal support of our leadership and board for Conservatives in Northern Ireland, their wish to have a close relationship with local Conservatives, to be at the heart of politics here, and that we will be contesting elections in future. This demonstrates that the reasons for tendering my resignation have been addressed and I have therefore consented to the request of the Executive and local membership that I withdraw my resignation.”
The party also commented on their future plans in Northern Ireland.
Members of our Executive have agreed that we would not now be able to properly contest the Assembly elections as we will not have the necessary infrastructure in place due to the events of recent months. We can however confirm that we will have that infrastructure in place for all future elections including an office and full time staff to support the local Executive and candidates.
We will therefore watch with interest the results of the Assembly elections in May and then decide on a detailed long term strategy that will enable us to make a real difference as we pursue our One Northern Ireland, One Community, One Future politics, and put up credible candidates with the experience that can provide the leadership Northern Ireland requires.
We look forward to building our party across Northern Ireland and attracting members and future candidates from all sections of the community who believe in our vision of a positive future for everyone