DUP “a sectarian party”

The BBC reports on David Trimble’s address at the UUP conference in Newcastle, County Down, where he has provided his analysis of the failings of the new political majorities here to reach a resolution of the difficulties he had struggled with. It includes perhaps his most scathing attack on the DUP to date.His comments on the changes being sought by the DUP are sure to cause a reaction.

“What is the gain if the DUP is not required to vote for a Sinn Fein DFM [Deputy First Minister] but it is prepared to accept a Sinn Fein DFM voted in by other means?”

“This is merely stripping out one of the few cross-community provisions of the Agreement to spare the blushes of a sectarian party.”

He is also critical of the political cover being granted to Sinn Fein by the British and Irish Governments –

“Like other parties, we do not know what republicans supposedly offered to Blair. I suspect the offer was more a bluff than anything else

Blair should have nailed it down but, with characteristic optimism, he rushed at it.

The DUP could have covered themselves by confronting republicans and insisting they give clear details. But rather than engage in serious negotiations, they hid behind other issues.

I did warn the DUP that they were letting republicans away in the smoke. Unfortunately, they did not listen.

But that should not obscure the fact that the main responsibility lies with the government and republicans.[my emphasis]

But, just as the DUP and SF are dallying while assessing the electoral impact of any moves now, Trimble also has an eye on next year’s elections –

Mr Trimble said that, with the General Election and local government elections approaching, unionism could not afford to have five years of the DUP.

“To an extent not grasped here, the DUP, in a House of Commons completely dominated by Labour MPs, are held in scarcely concealed contempt

Five years of their sourness will do unaccountable damage to the Union.”