Frank Millar’s first full length book (Newshound) is, in effect, a lengthy interrogation of David Trimble a man whose name will be for ever associated with the Belfast Agreement. In accordance with his reputation as a journlalist, Millar is patient and thorough, and spares his subject no blushes. Over the next few days, I’ll be teasing out some of the highlights of the book, drawn from a series of exhaustive interviews over the summer of 2004.
For many nationalists of all shades at the time, Trimble always seemed a conflicted character: committed to the pragmatic need for a political solution, but still not desparately keen on having Catholics about the place. To this day, there remains considerable scepticism about his motives.
Millar draws him out on the concept of reconciliation:
…the people who’ve got a concept of reconciliation, which is we’ve all got to be best friends, you know, and live in each other’s pockets all the time… I’m pretty sure they don’t do that in their own lives. Nor is it reasonable to expect other people to behave in that way, as if it comes down to a sort of political correctness that we use certain language even though it’s not what people believe.
Trimble goes on:
I thought we were much more likely to gradually evolve to a society where people were more comfortable and where the differentials would be less of an issue. Differences in society, differences in religious belief and identity are not necessarily a bad thing. What you should try and do is try and diffuse the political clash and have a situation where we no longer have religion and community identity coaligned with political views.