Politics Made Simple Episode 4 (The Northern Ireland Assembly Election): What Is The UUP?

The Ulster Unionist Party (better known to all the normal folk as the UUP) is the second largest Unionist party in Northern Ireland — though you could say they are plotting to become the biggest again. Evolving from the Ulster Unionist Council which was founded in 1905, they were the biggest Unionist Party from the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921 until direct rule was called for in 1972, although they stayed important enough from then up until 2005, when it lost the title of biggest party to their now big brother, the DUP, and has been wondering how to grab the spotlight back ever since.

In recent years, the UUP has probably been best known for going from leader, to another leader, to another leader — making them the Katie Price or Angelina Jolie of Northern Ireland political parties — who at times, also decided to try and copy what their big brother was doing.

But after witnessing their big brother face a… ‘car crash’ in 2021, they dashed towards another chance to pick another leader, and this time picked who they hope is going to be their saviour: the former Army Captain, Doug Beattie (or as he became when a storm blew down part of his constituency sign, ‘Dougamorous’).

In the last year, they’ve changed a lot of their views from what was normally its historical stance, which they hope will go well with the voters.

So what are their beliefs, and what is it that makes them different from the DUP? In this blog, I’m going to outline everything there is to know about the UUP’s beliefs, so you can make the right decision come May the 5th.

So as mentioned, the UUP is the second biggest Unionist Party, so they are convinced that Northern Ireland is fundamentally better off inside the United Kingdom.

They were one of the main political parties who agreed the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement — which they compromised with their ex-partner, the SDLP — and are fully committed to it as a way of lasting peace.

During the 2016 Brexit Referendum, they supported Remain, but after the result was delivered said they were Democrats and accepted the result, while most other Remain Parties supported calls for a second referendum.

The party of the Health Minister, Robin Swann, they have a vision to restore the NHS to the potential where it can support the population to live as healthy people.

They support Integrated Education — where all children should be educated together regardless of religion.

Some other issues they’re committed to is to find a solution for Climate Change. They are also in support of having a thriving economy.

While they are against the Northern Ireland Protocol, they believe it can change more through negotiations instead of collapsing the house, which every other Unionist Party opposes.

So to summarise what the UUP is:

  • They are a Party which has derives from the Ulster Unionist Council, which was founded in the early 20th Century.
  • They are Unionist, so they believe Northern Ireland is better off inside the UK, but are against violence to help secure the Union.
  • They supported Remain in the 2016 Referendum, but decided to accept the result after the outcome was announced.
  • They historically counted LGBT+ issues as a matter of conscience, but are now in support of banning conversion therapy in Northern Ireland, ensuring information can be accessed by the transgender community and those questioning, and implementing zero intolerance approaches to hate crimes such groups might face.
  • They support the introduction of Changing Places Toilet facilities, and are also in support of setting up a £5million Accessibility fund to help improve accessibility for disabled people.
  • Their leader has faced criticism recently over offensive tweets he sent out between 2011-2014, although he has apologised now.

Sources

Ulster Unionist Party (Political Party, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom): https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ulster-Unionist-Party

I Will Not Be Intimidated vows UUP Leader, Doug Beattie, after ’Cowardly Attack’: https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/crime/i-will-not-be-intimidated-vows-uup-leader-doug-beattie-after-cowardly-attack-3629437

Ulster Unionist Party Policy Papers: https://www.uup.org/policy_papers

UUP Manifesto(s): https://www.uup.org/manifestos, https://assets.nationbuilder.com/uup/pages/40/attachments/original/1649258439/UUP_Manifesto_2022-_web.pdf?1649258439