The sordid affair of the non-cooption of David Calvert to Craigavon council on Monday has lead to a classic three-way argument between the UUP, the DUP and the TUV, with each party blaming the other two.
The TUV, as the 'wronged' party (who thought they had a deal with the DUP … when will people learn?), claim that:
"… the DUP and UUP have forced a by-election in Craigavon, which will cost the ratepayers tens of thousands of pounds. This TUV vacancy ought to have been filled by a TUV co-option, but the DUP welched on its agreement not to oppose a TUV co-option by proposing their own candidate. Our good faith in not forcing a by-election in Ballymoney has been shamelessly exploited. Sadly, even in local government it seems the DUP is not to be trusted."
The DUP countered this with a Jesuitical reply which tried to pass the buck to the UUP:
"1. The DUP did not oppose the co-option of David Calvert to Craigavon Borough Council – the same cannot be said of members of his own TUV party.And the UUP, who allowed themselves to be drawn into the squabble, said that:
2. When the TUV candidate failed to secure a seconder, that proposal fell.
3. His proposer, independent councillor David Jones, then supported our subsequent suggestion of an independent, non-party aligned local community worker to fill the position in an effort to save rate-payers the cost of a by-election.
4. Our suggestion of an independent community activist was rejected by the UUP who put forward the name of prospective UCUNF parliamentary candidate Harry Hamilton.
5. The UUP forced the by-election and have landed the rate-payers of Craigavon with costs of between £25,000 and £30,000 to pay for this.
It is a disgraceful lie to attempt to blame any member of the DUP for this situation. We have behaved with honesty and in a spirit of co-operation throughout this process. We said we wouldn’t oppose David Calvert and we didn’t. When he failed to get through we then suggested an independent non-party person. It is unfortunate that the UUP should have sought to steal a council seat that they never held by rejecting our offer.
I am particularly disappointed that our constructive suggestion of co-opting an independent community activist was rejected by the UUP."
"The deal done between the DUP and TUV earlier this year was hailed at the time as a solution to avoid two by-elections saving the public purse approximately £25,000 in each case. In Ballymoney things went through in the summer without a problem, but in Craigavon last night things were different.No party comes out of this with much honour – the TUV, though technically correct, proposed a candidate that nobody wanted – a man disliked (apparently) even within his own party. The DUP clearly failed to live up to the implied deal – though, of course, they "did not oppose the co-option of David Calvert" – a response that the most slippery of politicians would be embarrassed to utter. And the UUP acted entirely in their own interest, while annoying both the other unionist parties.
When the TUV nomination was proposed on Monday night, there was nobody to second the proposal. Why was this? UUP understands that the DUP even approached Sinn Fein to get them to second the TUV proposal! How could such a thing happen if there was supposed to be a deal between DUP and TUV?
Looking at the sequence of events, when Traditional Unionist Mark Russell stepped down from his seat, the DUP failed to agree the candidate proposed and then went one further by adding a new name to the pot - Bruce Kidd. The result - a by-election - and it is only for this reason that the UUP has added their name to the race.
Commenting on the issue, UUP leader on Craigavon Borough Council, Councillor Ken Twyble said; "The much trumpeted deal between the DUP and TUV to fill Council vacancies in Ballymoney and Craigavon has now collapsed as the TUV failed to have their candidate for the Craigavon vacancy returned due to the lack of a seconder! It would appear therefore that the DUP failed to keep their word and are once again trying to dictate terms just like they did in Dromore.
I want to make it clear that the UUP was never part of a deal, but it appears that the DUP were not prepared to second the TUV nominee despite the deal; however we understand that the DUP even approached Sinn Fein to see if they would second the TUV candidate!
Now that we are facing a by-election the UUP will select a candidate - and we hope to win and add to the service provided by the party in the Craigavon area."
All three ended up in a sulk, and not talking to each other. Excellent result.