BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: N Ireland  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 21 October, 2002, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
IRA overshadows Trimble's day out
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
The gambler has managed to roll high so far

After all the political risks taken to achieve power-sharing at Stormont, like a gambler's lucky streak, it has vanished.

But remarkably, perhaps, David Trimble is still in the game addressing the eighth party conference of his leadership.

On the whole the day was a slick public relations operation with the deep divisions of the party set aside for now.

The Ulster Unionists are in election mode - reflected in David Trimble's speech, which was a mixture of big picture politics and contempt for the Democratic Unionist Party.

So Mr Adams it's up to you, only this time do not expect promises or beginnings to do the trick

Ulster Unionist David Trimble
The central message, as Halloween approaches, was that David Trimble and party would insist that "phantom disbandment by the IRA won't do the trick".

In a direct message to the Sinn Fein president, Mr Trimble declared: "So Mr Adams it's up to you, only this time do not expect promises or beginnings to do the trick.

"It's time for conclusions, time for the transition that republicans say they are making to be completed.

"After a three-fold failure to honour obligations I have no intention of coming back to my party until it is demonstrably clear that this time obligations have been fulfilled."

Mr Trimble also rejected the notion that a statement that the war is over might be enough.

"That might once have meant something, but it cuts no ice today. Neither will deeds, if again they are grudging and minimalist."

Mr Trimble added that loyalist paramilitaries would also have to go away.

Message lost

But the message was overshadowed by the phantom appearance of P O'Neil.

Whether deliberately or not a statement from a senior IRA source had the effect of pushing the UUP conference down the news agenda.

The IRA's claim that it was not a threat to the peace process was met with derision by senior unionists, including Mr Trimble, who said he wondered whether he had imagined recent alleged breaches of the ceasefire.

UUP leader reserved his sharpest jibes for DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson
UUP leader reserved his sharpest jibes for DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson
Whatever the tension between republicans and unionists there was no mistaking the verbal missiles Mr Trimble fired at London, Dublin and the DUP.

To Prime Minister Tony Blair he said the British Government "must not settle for anything less than completed actions by the IRA".

To the "sleek mandarins in the Irish department of foreign affairs" he sent a message that joint authority wasn't an option adding "in suspension there can be no question of the North-South arrangements continuing to function as if nothing had happened".

But in a clear signal of the impending election Mr Trimble's most scathing remarks were aimed at the DUP, which he described as "the party of the big lie and half truths".

His greatest contempt was aimed at the DUP's deputy leader Peter Robinson, the heir apparent to the DUP throne.

In words that are sure to sting the DUP leader, Mr Trimble claimed Mr Robinson had manoeuvred Ian Paisley into becoming, in deed if not words, a supporter of the Agreement. "Well done Peter," he declared.

Mr Trimble's reception by party delegates was certainly warmer than in last year's cold house, the Waterfront Hall.

But his critics continued to circle throughout the hall, waiting for the opportunity to deal him out of the political game.

One whispered privately that any attempt by David Trimble to restore power-sharing with Sinn Fein in any circumstances would not be tolerated.

The question is, will the gambler in Mr Trimble be given another chance, or will a new leader be at the podium at the next Ulster Unionist annual conference?

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI political correspondent Martina Purdy:
"Delegates heard their leader demand deeds, not words from the IRA"

Key stories

Analysis

Hearts and Minds

Talking Point

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

19 Oct 02 | N Ireland
18 Oct 02 | Politics
18 Oct 02 | N Ireland
17 Oct 02 | N Ireland
17 Oct 02 | N Ireland
17 Oct 02 | N Ireland
17 Oct 02 | N Ireland
14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more N Ireland stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes