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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 21:48 GMT 22:48 UK
DUP celebrates with tea and buns
Mark Simpson
By Mark Simpson
BBC Ireland correspondent

David Simpson and Rev Ian Paisley
The two shared a hug and then a snack in a local cafe

After shattering David Trimble's Commons career, Ian Paisley celebrated the DUP's champagne moment with a cup of tea and a bun.

The veteran hardliner, now in his 80th year, isn't exactly a party animal, but he is a political animal and he savoured his latest success with his usual gusto.

He travelled across Northern Ireland from Ballymena to Banbridge just to be with the man who ousted Mr Trimble in Upper Bann, David Simpson.

They shared a hug, and then a snack in the local cafe, before doing a joint lap of honour round a group of supporters waiting outside the count centre.

Jeering crowd

Today was the moment they had been working towards for the past seven years - destroying the career of the unionist leader who signed the Good Friday Agreement.

Just to emphasise the point, one DUP supporter waved a Simpson election poster, engraved with the words "This is a Good Friday". The crowd had earlier jeered at Mr Trimble.

Showing no sympathy for a man whose political career had just entered freefall, they shouted "go down to the job centre" and "why don't you try mushroom picking".

Mr Trimble always regarded serving in the mother of all Parliaments as a privilege

They were trying to hurt the Ulster Unionist leader, but he was hurting enough already.

Anyone who knows him will tell you that he adored the House of Commons.

If you ever met him on a plane between Belfast and London, he was always happier going over than coming back.

The traditions and restrictions of the House may frustrate some modern politicians, but Mr Trimble always regarded serving in the mother of all Parliaments as a privilege.

He may be back one day, albeit in the House of Lords.

As for the DUP, they have already started working out where they want to sit when they take their largest-ever delegation to the Commons - nine MPs - later this month.

Mission accomplished

Ian Paisley and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds were overheard discussing the seating arrangements as they enjoyed their tea and buns.

That is the thing about the DUP - they're always planning their next move.

In terms of their "get-Trimble" strategy, it's now mission accomplished.

They took great pleasure in seeing David Trimble standing forlorn on the election platform as the DUP victory was announced.

One of the party's young Turks summed it up when he said: "This is our Portillo moment."



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