Points of View: As Political Alliances Shift to the Right, Is Time Eventually Up for Mr Trimble?

Article excerpt

Byline: n Ryan McDowell, Ulster Young Unionist Council

IF one thing is certain in the aftermath of the recent election it is that the unionist population has rejected the Agreement. The entire unionist electorate, from the most moderate moving from Alliance to the Ulster Unionists or the more hardline moving from UUP to the DUP the entire pro-union electorate, shifted to the right.

This must also be seen as a rejection of David Trimble given that he confidently predicted that the UUP would remain the largest unionist party and saw the electorate return a verdict whereby the UUP, far from being the largest party, has now less support than the Provisional IRA.

This is an electoral disgrace for which David Trimble must carry the can. The need for a change of leadership is not simply about restoring the electoral fortunes of a declining party. There is a substantial job of work ahead for unionism in the renegotiation that will inevitably come.

Unionism needs to confront its enemies face-to-face and fight its corner. Trimble's mistake was not to talk to Sinn Fein but to capitulate to them. If the DUP has gone into the last negotiations our country may never have suffered the Good Friday Agreement.

Unionism must be seen on the mainland and elsewhere to be at least trying to resolve the problem. This will not be the case if we refuse to negotiate with what is now indisputably the largest nationalist party. For this reason it is important that the Ulster Unionists can negotiate directly but Trimble and many of his lieutenants have proved themselves incapable of this. We therefore need a strong Ulster Unionist team and, more importantly a leader, who can rebuild our relationship with the DUP.

Unionism must fight this battle together and whether some UUP members like it or not, as the largest party in Northern Ireland, the DUP will need to be in the Vanguard of that fight with us giving them the support they need in our capacity as the second party of unionism. …