Thursday, May 12, 2005
The fall of Trimble
If the IRA had decommissioned and disbanded does anyone seriously doubt that Trimble would not now still be First Minister of a government including Sinn Fein and the DUP? If Irish nationalism had taken action to isolate Sinn Fein because of their failure to secure IRA decommissioning would there be any doubt that Trimble would still be First Minister of a government not including Sinn Fein?Trimble has taken every risk possible for peace and all that he has ended up with is defeat and failure. Nobody in Irish nationalism lifted a finger to help him. Nobody in nationalism has taken any risks for peace as they prefer the safety of sectarian communal solidarity to peace. There is no nationalist David Trimble and it does not look like there will be in the forseeable future. I have seen at least one academic article written by a puzzled US law professor trying to explain why the unionists in Northern Ireland was so generous to nationalism in the GFA, I have yet to see any explaining nationalist generosity in the GFA.
Trimble genuinely tried to act for the good of the whole community and nationalism responded by closing ranks and undermining him.
I voted against the GFA. I was opposed to prisoner releases, I thought the Strand 1 scheme was utterly unworkable and I thought that the language on decommissioning was too vague and wooly. It looks like all of my objections have been proven right with time. I would rather have been proved wrong.
If IRA decommissioning had happened by 2000, on the timetable set out by the agreement, I would have been proven wrong and we would probably now be looking at the end of the DUP instead of the end of the UUP.Trimble bravely did what he thought was right. Many of us disagreed with his judgement. Unfortunately we were right and he was wrong. It would have been better for all of us had that been different.
The disastrous GFA has caused so much grief that we must now finally write its own obituary, it was an error of judgement on Trimbles behalf to adopt the Chamberlain approach to SinnFein/IRA and i am afraid 67 years later the world regards Neville Chamberlain as a fool. I wonder if Trimble is cast in the same light.
I too was disgusted by the release of all terrorists on both sides. The "principle of consent" rewards unionist intransigence and means that all future elections in NI will be sectarian headcounts.
Any "generosity to nationalism" is a myth in my view - power sharing is the only viable option for NI in the current climate. What other generosity was there? Funding for the Irish language? Good lord - what a disgrace giving funding to culture.
Was Trimble a far-seeing moderate? Not a chance. He was forced into an agreement by US/UK pressure. He did his best not to defend the agreement he signed up to and it's no surprise that the unionist people didn't follow such lacklustre leadership.
There is no nationalist David Trimble in that both nationalist parties wholeheartedly support the GFA. In my view, the Sinn Fein leadership is vainly trying to lead the republican movement from paramilitarism to democratic politics. Any jump too quickly would have led to yet another republican split. The SDLP, Irish govt and, especially, the Adams/McGuinness leadership know this, hence nationalist patience with the slow movement from the IRA.