Last time David Trimble walked down the main street in Portadown he only got as far as the Ulster Bank before he was confronted by a group of nine or ten men, said to have paramilitary connections and forced him to leave his campaign team to progress without him. But this Saturday, he genuinely had a lot of fun. Like the time five wee tykes came running across the street, shouting “Hello David!”, and all of them wanting to shake his hand. Then the smallest of them shouted, “where’s Trimble?”His party denies that DUP accusations that the UUP have not delivered for the people of Upper Bann. One of the party’s candidates in Portadown, David Thompson, points to a consistently low level of unemployment (4.5%) in Craigavon over the last twenty years is due to pioneering work undertaken by the party in local council.
In particular he cites the local entreprise development agency, Craigavon Industrial Development Organisation, which has been incumbating the fast growth small companies that have underwritten the area’s consistently high levels of employment.
On the larger questions, Trimble thinks the DUP is incapable of doing a deal. “In recent years we’ve had a lot of progress, but we’ve been in a stalemate for the last couple of years. We got to get the initiative to the parties that brought us the deal”
And he notes that the DUP’s deal doesn’t look much different from the one he signed off on in April 1998:
“Neither of the extreme parties has an alternative. The Agreement that we had provides a template it reflects the forces in society, and reflects the structure of society here. So give or take a wee bit here or there, that is the template. Like any political system it will evolve. But what last year showed that neither extremes had an alternative or was even actively pursuing anything that was radically different”.
We promised we’d come back to him later in the week to see how things are going!
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty