God bless you Seamus and thank you for all your work in helping to bring peace to this country. It’s up to others to get on with it now.

David Kerr was a Special Advisor and Press Secretary to David Trimble when he was First Minister in that period 1998-2001. I’m very sorry to hear of the death of Seamus Mallon tonight. When I worked with David Trimble in the First Minister’s office between 1998-2001, we worked closely with Seamus and his team, in his role as Deputy First Minister. He was a tough, principled and at times incredibly stubborn politician. Negotiating with Seamus took time because he was …

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Has David Trimble has provided the DUP with the crucial argument for supporting the deal?

Has their old enemy David Trimble provided the DUP with useful ammunition to support Mrs May’s deal?  We’re told she will only make a third attempt at securing the Common’s agreement this week if she can be sure of winning a majority. And for that DUP support is crucial, not only in terms of numbers but for their influence with the ERG. “It was the Attorney General wot wrecked it” was  the Brexiteer verdict after last Tuesday’s debacle, when their …

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Rumbled! Theresa May’s secret plan to extend Article 50 and stay close to the customs union long term.

Theresa May will not mind being forced to extend Article 50 in fifteen day’s time by a cross parliamentary vote, if Tory Brexiteers try to veto whatever she brings back from Brussels. Long suspected as inevitable  despite her constant denials, the evidence for this comes  – would you believe it ?  from that old faithful of hacks’ sources,” overheard in a bar” – in this case by ITN correspondent in Brussels , Angus Walker.        Last night, I’d been reporting …

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The Ulster Unionist Party: Country Before Party?

The first thing to say in respect of this book is a big thank you to the leadership of the UUP from all five authors. The UUP has undergone some tough times over the last two decades but the five most recent leaders could not have been more supportive of the survey of party members underpinning this volume. The book includes extensive interviews with the UUP’s five most recent leaders: Trimble, Empey, Elliott, Nesbitt and Swann, to analyse why the …

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Trimble’s attack on the backstop has come too late

With prospects of a return to Stormont hovering around degrees absolute, the temperature is rising among unionists about the meaning of the backstop. They believe – and they’re not alone – that there is no outcome other than no deal that will not activate the backstop and “make Northern Ireland a protectorate of the EU.” Mixed messages are emerging as EU leaders have to decide whether to convene a special ratification summit on 21 November. Meanwhile a more parochial row …

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Clinton: “Keep the cranes up. Keep the voices free. Keep the votes fair. You’ll figure it out.” #GFA20

Political leaders of old and today gathered at Queen’s University, Belfast for a day of events focussed on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that people “should realise that this agreement was never going to support all the problems of Northern Ireland” while former US President Bill Clinton had a triptych of advice for NI: “Keep the cranes up. Keep the voices free. Keep the votes fair. You’ll figure it out.”

Now the turn of Seamus Mallon at 80. Why he and Trimble were unable to unite over arms decommissioning remains unexplained

Following the tributes to John Hume on his 80th   birthday, the venerable SDLP deputy leader and  the initial deputy first minster Seamus Mallon has given a fascinating interview to the Irish News  for his own  80th. In passing I can’t help noticing the comparisons and contrasts with Sinn Fein. What are yours? On working with David Trimble, Ulster unionist leader and the first FM Mallon says his permanent secretary, civil servant Billy Gamble – “an absolute gem” – regularly had …

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US President Bill Clinton: “We’ve all taken our licks for Gerry”.

The BBC’s freedom of information specialist, Martin Rosenbaum, has been reading through transcripts of calls and meetings between US President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, between 1997 and 2000, which were released following a BBC freedom of information request to the Clinton Presidential Library. As he notes, [The transcripts] contain substantial redactions, especially of Mr Blair’s remarks… From the BBC report Much of their discussion was about the Northern Ireland peace process, in which President Clinton played a significant part. …

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Patterson: “We hounded David Trimble for far less”

Good story by Sam McBride in today’s News Letter with comments from DUP Councillor, Ruth Patterson about the party going back into the Executive. In the piece Patterson says; As a former member of the UDR, and someone who has been in touch with many innocent victims over recent days, it deeply saddens me and gives me cause for great concern that the party have decided to return to government with Sinn Fein, who the leadership of the DUP have …

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To many minds, The King has never truly Left The Building

Sometimes, however annoying it may initially look, utilising a cliche can often be the best way of introducing any topic. So it is with ‘Elvis has left the building’ – the phrase often used by announcers whenever an Elvis Presley gig was over, in a bid to clear the auditorium of screaming fans. The singer would have turned 80 today, had he not Left The Building for good in August 1977. Another oft-used cliche when discussing talented late musicians is …

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Cartoon – Trembling Trimble 2.0

Trembling Peter, via Live Drawing. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Trimble on Trimble: “Adams and McGuinness were deciding that they would prefer to have Paisley and Robinson as their interlocutors…”

If you can, it’s worth listening to BBC Radio Four’s Archive on 4 extended interview with David Trimble. But it is particularly worth listening to the last ten minutes or so, in which he provides an important analysis of how he was dispatched to the boundary by some neat footwork by the Sinn Fein days before the November 2003 Assembly election was to be called. He talks about what he had thought was a shared understanding that the IICD “had …

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Trimble: Biography of an enigma

Just finished reading Henry McDonald’s biog of Trimble (US). One of those last minute impulse buys waiting for an early morning flight out of Aldergrove. And still Trimble largely remains the enigmatic creature he was before. However the book is a useful reference for some of the action we’ve had since April 1998 (though it cuts off when the end-game was still in it’s early stages). Several things leapt out at me: 1 The key influence that several Catholic/former Nationalist …

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Stormont implementation group meets…

The meeting of the pro-agreement parties at Hillsborough today seems to have had a mixed reception. Some are complaining that David Trimble is not showing it the regard he should, in leaving it to his Stormont Environment Minister Dermot Nesbitt. However this may have the more mundane (and hopeful??) explanation that this group will be meeting more regularly to more effectively manage the implimentation of the Belfast Agreement. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on …

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