Irish Peace Process Facing another Unionist Ultimatum

D OC donaloc at
Mon Sep 23 04:18:29 MDT 2002

(Once again, Trimble has reacted to threats to his leadership by imposing a
deadline. This one, it appears, is made in the confidence that he will be
able to walk out in January 18th and fight an election safe from his
Right-flank. We knew that this was coming - it is against this backdrop that
'putting arms beyond use' occurred - as I have stated previously. Trimble
now has to push for the disbandment of the IRA as he has no other cards left
in his hand. This will do damage to the 'liberal' support-base of
middle-class unionists who will feel annoyed that he is bringing down the
Assembly. In effect, he is engaging in a duel with Paisley's DUP for the
majority 'hard-core' Unionists - they will increasingly become detached from
the more 'mainstream' unionist-minded liberal Protestant and this will erode
the unionist hegemony.)

>From the BBC...
Monday, 23 September, 2002, 07:55 GMT 08:55 UK
Tension builds over Trimble deadline


Party leader David Trimble announced on Saturday that UUP ministers would
resign from the Northern Ireland Executive, collapsing the power-sharing
government, if republicans had not proved they were committed to peace by 18

The decision was taken at a meeting of his party's ruling council at which
hardliners pressed Mr Trimble to adopt a tougher line against Sinn Fein
following claims of republican paramilitary activity.

Mr Trimble said his party would also impose the immediate sanction on
republicans of ending Ulster Unionist participation in North-South
Ministerial Council meetings in which Sinn Fein was involved.

(This is the most significant part so far - The Ministerial Council ends,
means that the Executives of Cross-Border bodies don't meet. However, these
all-Ireland structures will continue to be active - mechanisms have been put
in place since the last time Trimble did this which mean that these
structures will continue irreversibly.)

It could be that the people in the IRA move unequivocally into Sinn Fein and
devote themselves purely to democratic means

Mr Trimble said the Ulster Unionists hoped to get into talks with the
British Government and the other political parties over the next three
months to "see if there is a viable basis for future government in Northern

(The implied threat here is that the GFA structures are unworkable - the
question facing the British now is how will they replace it - direct rule
(as in the past) or joint-Sovereignty. Having said that, if Trimble manages
to win the coming election - in that his party doesn't go into liquidation -
I could not foresee circumstances in which he would oppose re-entry into
Executive authority. In effect, he will have to enter in unchanged


[British Secretary for NI, Peter Reid] told the BBC's On the Record
programme there was no reason why IRA decommissioning and the disbanding of
the IRA could not be completed by 18 January.

"It could be that the people in the IRA move unequivocally into Sinn Fein
and devote themselves purely to democratic means," he said.

(Trimble has asked for something he knows will never be delivered)


Meanwhile, the Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader, Peter Robinson,
dismissed the Ulster Unionist strategy as a stunt fuelled by election fears.


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