Wednesday, July 10, 2002

David Trimble seems to be at the receiving end of lectures from just about everyone these days. David Lister at The Times suggests that:

“Mr Trimble, who has vehemently denied suggestions that he will stand down as party leader before the election, needs urgent help to win back Protestants who have lost faith with the peace process. The basic problem for Mr Trimble is that, although his compromises in taking Unionists into a power-sharing Assembly and talking to terrorists have won him international plaudits and a Nobel Peace Prize, Mr Trimble still has trouble winning support at home.”

In last Sunday’s version of the paper, his colleague Chris Ryder put it more bluntly:

“Back in the heady days after the signing of the agreement, and its overwhelming endorsement north and south of the border, he should have smothered the minority who are now threatening to drive him from both jobs. That grave mistake having been made, Trimble has allowed himself to be hounded into progressively more barren territory by critics and enemies. Having made such giant leaps towards reconciliation, he should more aggressively have made common cause with his fellow pioneers.”

Ryder then goes on to frame the current dilemma facing Unionism as a whole:

“The fundamental one is that unionists, from the moderate to the extreme, have to make up their minds whether they are simply anti-Catholic or pro-union. Not my words but those of one of Trimble’s ministers. That is the real question for unionists this Drumcree Sunday. Is the future Orange or golden?”

This is echoed in Richard Hass’s recent comments on the falling away of confidence in the Belfast Agreement.

“I am not going to mention any names, but I do think it’s because a lot of the debate on the Unionist side is negative”. One way to stop any further erosion of the underpinnings of the Good Friday accord is to draw leaders away from the day-to-day, on-the-ground tensions, he added. He indicated that top-level U.S. political support would be offered to participants from Ireland and Northern Ireland in the Ireland/U.S. business summit, scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., Sept. 4-6.”

Meanwhile Gregory Campbell ploughs away at the long straight furrow of statistics to make his point.