Northern Ireland

A turbulent year for Ulster Unionists

It has been a troubled year for the Ulster Unionist Party - a change of leader, a series of public disputes and a number of high-profile resignations.

Here is a timeline of recent events.

January 2012

Strangford MLA David McNarry quits the UUP assembly team after he is removed by party leader Tom Elliott from his role as deputy chair of the education committee.

This followed an interview he gave to a Belfast newspaper in which he revealed that his party was having talks with the DUP.

March 2012:

Tom Elliott steps down from the leadership of the party after just 18 months.

His pledge not to attend gay pride parades or Gaelic football matches pushed liberal unionists like former Irish rugby international Trevor Ringland out of the party.

Image caption David McNarry was expelled in May

An angry scene at an election count, at which Mr Elliott branded flag-waving Sinn Fein supporters as "scum", came over badly on live TV.

There was also the problem of how to deal with the ever more dominant DUP. Mr Elliott authorised secret talks with his party's rivals, but then fell out with Mr McNarry, claiming he had revealed too much of the negotiations to the newspapers.

Meanwhile Mr McNarry's troubles deepen as he is suspended for nine months from the Ulster Unionist Party.

Mike Nesbitt is elected to lead this party and, within days, announces a reshuffle of his assembly team.

May 2012

The Ulster Unionist party expels Mr McNarry. He claimed the decision against him was "personal" and that he will continue as an independent MLA.

June 2012

Former Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Ken Maginnis loses the party whip at Westminster following his comments on BBC NI's Nolan programme that homosexuality is "unnatural and deviant".

August 2012

Lord Maginnis announces that he is leaving the UUP. He was an MP for 18 years from 1983 to 2001. He strongly backed David Trimble's decision to sign the Good Friday Agreement.

Image caption Lord Maginnis left the party in August

In more recent years Lord Maginnis played a role in securing the victories of first Tom Elliott then Mike Nesbitt as Ulster Unionist leaders.

October 2012

John McCallister loses his position as the party's deputy leader after he says he fears Ulster unionists are "sleepwalking into unionist unity".

December 2012

Lagan Valley MLA Basil McCrea is disciplined for publicly criticising his party's stance over flying the union flag at Belfast City Hall.

January 2013 : Mr McCrea votes against his party colleagues at Stormont for the first time.

Former Ulster Unionist MLA David McClarty says there is an onus on "moderate unionists" to consider forming a new party.

February 2013 The UUP disciplinary group gives Basil McCrea a formal warning. Mr McCrea and John McCallister resign from the Ulster Unionist party.