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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 October, 2003, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
What is the price of being right?
How can the pre-election deal put on hold by David Trimble be put back on track? BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Martina Purdy examines the options now facing republicans.

The IRA may not move to save David Trimble, but there is one good reason for thinking it might - self interest.

The republican paramilitary might feel it is the wronged party - as Gerry Adams put it, the jilted bridegroom, left at the altar.

The republican paramilitary might feel it is the "jilted bridegroom"
And, from the tone of Mr Adams' remarks at a news conference on Wednesday, republicans feel they have been let down, that they are in the right.

But it must be asked by republicans, does it do the movement any good being right, if they lose the prize to the DUP?

Mr Adams summed up his dilemma at Hillsborough on Tuesday night when he said the "two happy campers" were Ian Paisley and Jeffrey Donaldson.

The anti-agreement unionists are no doubt in the ascendancy following the fiasco that saw the sequencing suspended. Sinn Fein is on record as saying that the rise of "rejectionist" unionists will not be good for the peace process or the people of the island of Ireland.

At stake right now is the Good Friday Agreement and the future of power-sharing.

Given that republicans regard themselves as the mother of the peace process, and that they love the agreement more, it is republicans who are more likely to make the sacrifice and save it
The question now is: Who loves the agreement more - the unionists or the republicans?

It's obvious. The Bible perhaps best illustrates the republican dilemma. The First Book of Kings recounts how King Solomon was presented with two women fighting over a baby.

Solomon proposes the child be cut in half to appease the two women. The wise King knew that the real mother, the one who loved the child more, would make the sacrifice.

Rather than see the babe cut in half, the mother was prepared to let the other woman have her way.

Given that republicans regard themselves as the mother of the peace process, and that they love the agreement more, it is republicans who are more likely to make the sacrifice and save it. Logic dictates that Mr Trimble, as flawed as he is from the republican perspective, is a better bet than the DUP leader.

Mr Adams has pledged himself to trying to sort out the problem. His difficulty is that he is going to have to persuade a highly charged, extremely angry and emotional republican base to compromise again.

Mr Trimble was speaking at his party's annual conference
Mr Trimble is a "better bet than the DUP leader"
The arguments he will have to tackle are obvious. As one republican put it: "David Trimble has dug himself another hole with his JCB. And he expects us to get him out again."

And that is the easy point to tackle. What of those republicans who choose to turn their ire on the Sinn Fein leader rather than Mr Trimble?

Besides Mr Adams, Martin McGuinness will have a pivotal role to play in all of this.

As a member of the power-sharing executive, he, more than others, knows the value of the executive.

While self interest dictates the logic of another compromise from Sinn Fein, emotion and pride may yet prevail.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, pointed out that decommissioning wouldn't have happened in the first place had confidentiality not been guaranteed. This was to spare P O'Neill's pride.

Asked why the IRA would not allow more visibility, Mr Adams declared: "One man's transparency is another man's humiliation."

In the past, Mr Adams has been able to persuade the grassroots of the IRA to give a little more on their journey towards a settlement.

But it has usually been after a cooling off period, when emotions have subsided and reason can prevail.

The great problem for the Sinn Fein leadership is this time, there isn't time.


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