Mallon says Sinn Fein played Hume like “3lb trout”

Seamus Mallon has been speaking to Talkback (interview to be played later today on Radio Ulster) where he reflects on his career and comments on his views about his then party leader, John Hume.

Speaking to William Crawley, the BBC reports;

John Hume was “no fool” but that Sinn Féin leaders played him “like a 3lb trout”.

Mr Hume’s presence gave republicans a status almost validating what they did in the previous 30 years, he said.

Mr Mallon reiterated previous comments that the British and Irish governments should have made IRA decommissioning a precondition for Sinn Féin’s participation in the Northern Ireland Executive.

He blamed the failure to achieve disarmament for the severe political damage suffered by both the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists during the 1990s.

Continuing he criticizes the DUP and Sinn Fein;

“What worries me most is that the two major parties don’t seem to, in their hearts, believe in the whole thesis of the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

“Is the present executive showing any benevolence, except to their own supporters and those who vote for them?”

He said he would not include all executive parties in his criticism, because it is a “two-party show”.

However, a defence of the Hume legacy did come in from a Sinn Fein spokesperson;

It is unfortunate that Seamus Mallon talks of his one-time party leader in this fashion, especially given John Hume’s current health.

“And in spite of the naysayers, which included Seamus Mallon and much of the Irish establishment, the courage and the vision of John Hume and Gerry Adams and others brought about the Irish peace process and an end to the conflict.

“The Hume/Adams document of 1993 became the catalyst for the achievement of the Good Friday and other agreements, which have underpinned the peace and political processes.

The interview will play at 12pm on BBC Talkback today.

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs