The Guardian May 16, 2001


Ireland: Trimble "resignation" condemned

by Steve Lawton

Foot and mouth or foot in the mouth? While that affliction of cattle has 
affected daily life in Ireland as it has in Britain, the provocative 
announcement by David Trimble, Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader and 
Northern Ireland Assembly First Minister, that he will resign on July 1, is 
an affliction of a potentially more serious nature.

He said that if the IRA do not begin destroying their weapons before the 
June 30 decommissioning deadline, he will go.

Britain's Northern Ireland Minister Dr John Reid, regarded it as "highly 
regrettable" and warned: "Progress needs to made on all fronts. The two 
governments set June as the date by which they believed substantial 
progress would be made to secure the full implementation of the Agreement."

To date, the IRA has undertaken to co-operate with an independently 
verified monitoring of an IRA arms dump.

Trimble's insistence is tantamount to declaring that the IRA [is a] 
defeated aggressor and that the British occupation is a benign part of the 
equation.

Now that we have it on record that during the Bloody Sunday events of 1972 
Martin McGuinness was a senior IRA figure, we can accept the weight of that 
reconfirmation of the IRA's absolutely consistent adherence to the Good 
Friday Agreement.

Moreover, despite all manner of tripwires and political mines, the IRA 
maintains its cease-fire which it first undertook seven years ago.

Martin McGuinness commented that Trimble "intends to go forward at this 
general election effectively allowing the rejectionist unionist tail to wag 
the unionist dog."

That, he said, amounts to offering in effect a "wreckers" charter" to the 
unionist people. On the last occasion he threatened to resign, Tony Blair 
suspended the Legislative Assembly for three months.

Sinn Fein leaders have frequently pointed out that this unionist 
intransigence and dicing with the lives of the Catholic and Protestant 
communities, both unionist and nationalist, is part of a persistent 
rearguard attack on the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

But three years on, some solid foundations for confidence in progress has 
been set firmly down. Not only are diehards finding it difficult to push 
the IRA out of its disciplined resolve, but many unionists have to swallow 
the bitter pill administered by the European Human Rights Court last week.

The Court found against the British Government, ordering it to compensate 
14 families of those who were killed by the British Army and the Royal 
Ulster Constabulary (RUC) between 1982 and 1992. Some victims are at the 
centre of shoot-to-kill claims.

Martin McGuinness, since his position in the IRA at the time of Bloody 
Sunday was recently declared, has been personally vilified in order to 
undermine that inquiry.

That's partly because it is probing the wretched depths of British terror, 
and unionist bigots and reactionaries don't like what is emerging.

Hardliners tabled a motion of no-confidence in Martin McGuinness as 
Education Minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly, but amid heated 
exchanges between Sinn Fein and the hardliners, the motion was defeated 45 
to 31. Sinn Fein was backed by the SDLP, Alliance Party and Women's 
Coalition.

Martin McGuinness, when asked what the IRA's response would be to David 
Trimble's announced resignation said: "We had a very important initiative 
from the IRA [last year] which unionists and David Trimble threw back in 
their faces. That was [for] international inspectors with the ability to 
come to Ireland and inspect a number of dumps.

"This was coupled with an even more dramatic announcement from the IRA that 
in a particular context they were prepared to initiate a process to put 
weapons beyond use.

"I can say without fear of contradiction, that if David Trimble persists 
with this line [of resignation], we will never see decommissioning."

* * *
Abridged from New Worker, paper of New Communist Party of Britain

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