Ulster Popular Unionist Party

Ulster Popular Unionist Party

The Ulster Popular Unionist Party (UPUP) was a unionist political party in Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1980 by James Kilfedder, independent Unionist Member of Parliament for North Down, who led the party until his death in 1995.

In 1981, the party took three seats on North Down Borough Council and two seats on Ards Borough Council. Two of these were in North Down 'Area B', where sitting councillor George Green, a former Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party member who had been elected to the 1975 Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention, had joined the party. [ [http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/73-81lgnorthdown.htm The Local Government Elections 1973-1981: North Down] , Northern Ireland Elections] . The other, Gladys McIntyre, was Mayor of Ards in 1985-86.

Kilfedder won a seat for the party in North Down at the Northern Ireland Assembly election, 1982. Only a minority of his votes transferred to his running mate, George Green, who missed out on taking a second seat by just 6 votes. Kilfedder was subsequently elected Speaker of the Assembly. [ (1982–1986. [http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/cnd.htm North Down 1973-1982] , Northern Ireland Elections]

Kilfedder held his seat in the UK Parliament at the 1983 general election with a large majority, [http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/bnd.htm North Down, 1983-1995] , Northern Ireland Elections] but fared less well when he stood in the 1984 European election, taking only 2.9% of the first preference votes. [ [http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/fe84.htm The 1984 European Elections] , Northern Ireland elections] A unionist pact enabled Kilfedder to easily win a by-election in 1986, when he joined the other unionist MPs in resigning in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement. A challenge from Bob McCartney, standing as a "Real Unionist", led to a close election in 1987, but Kilfedder held on, and beat a Conservative Party opponent in 1992.

The party was reduced to three councillors in 1985, and remained at this level until Kilfedder's death in 1995. George Green had defected to the Conservative Party before 1989 but the party compensated by gaining a seat in the Dundonald area of Castlereagh Borough Council. Following Kilfedder's death, the three UPUP councillors went their separate ways, Valerie Kinghan to the newly formed UK Unionist Party. [ [http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/lgnorthdown.htm North Down Borough Council Elections 1993-2005] Northern Ireland Elections] Thomas Jeffers to the DUP and the Cecil Braniff setting up a short lived independent DUP. No party member contested the North Down by-election resulting from his death.


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