Monday, April 10, 2006
David Trimble - a true statesman
On the eighth anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement comes the news that David Trimble is to be made a peer. History will be kinder to Trimble than the electorate. In the long run it will be realised that the Agreement has made Northern Ireland and the wider British Isles a better and more stable place to live. Most of the guns are silent, emigration from the province is slowing down, the communities are more relaxed, the Anglo-Irish Agreement has been ended, the principle that the people of Northern Ireland will decide their fate has been agreed by all major parties in the province, the Republic has removed the claims to the province from its constitution and there is a greater understanding of the Unionist community. Ultimately the Good Friday Agreement has been a victory for Unionism. Sadly some parts of it, especially accepting that the elected representatives of a significant portion of the nationalist community are who they have elected, have proved controversial time and again. All agreements involve difficult compromises (something Ian Paisley would understand if he'd ever actually made some agreements in his long career) and this, along with the fate of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, have been difficult ones. But ultimately the best deal that could be obtained has been achieved. Contrast this with Ian Paisley's approach of repeatedly saying no which seems likely to achieve only the restoration of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in all but name.And now Trimble is going to the House of Lords. No doubt he will continue to make a significant contribution to UK politics. Might we even see him as a minister in the next Conservative government?