Former Northern Ireland First Minister and Upper Bann MLA David Trimble is “sceptical” after a controversial DUP councillor berated her party for “hounding” him out of office in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement.
Lord Trimble said, “The question is whether Ruth Patterson (a Belfast alderman) is speaking out in support of me or having a swipe at Peter Robinson – I suspect it is the latter.”
Mrs Patterson was commenting on the DUP’s recent “in-out” antics from the Executive after it was confirmed that IRA still existed. At the weekend she said she was “extremely confused and angered” by the party’s swift return to the Executive after a report on paramilitaries claimed that the IRA still had guns.
She added that David Trimble was hounded out of office for far less, and that her party had made concession far deeper than those made by Trimble during the Good Friday Agreement.
Trimble lost his Upper Bann seat in 2005 to David Simpson in the middle storm that followed the Agreement. Trimble resigned from politics here and entered The House of Lords as Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey on the Conservative benches.
Former UDR soldier Mrs Patterson said she had been in touch with the families of many innocent victims in recent days and was deeply concerned that her party had decided to return to government with Sinn Fein, “whom the leadership of the DUP had accepted are inextricably linked to the IRA”.
Last month, Alderman Patterson was overlooked by the DUP leadership when the party chose an MLA to replace South Belfast’s Jimmy Spratt. Instead, Mr Robinson’s former special adviser Emma Pengelly was given the post.
Mr Trimble said, “It comes as no real surprise. It’s a matter of history that the DUP stood outside the gates and jeered while the Good Friday Agreement was being negotiated. Yet, when they came into power, they concocted the St Andrews Agreement which is the identical twin of the original agreement.
“Once they moved into the real world of politics, they agreed to share power in the Assembly, and this is the result. Little progress has been made.”