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4 October 2001 Edition

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Trimble's hypocrisy

By MICHAEL PIERSE


With a pipe bomb in the one hand and a veto in the other, the veil has been torn from unionism's attempt to exclude Sinn FÈin from the Executive this week. It is now even more obvious that unionism's refusal to engage with the Peace Process has nothing to do with IRA arms.

By enlisting the PUP to second their motion to exclude Sinn FÈin, the UUP acted with the height of hypocrisy. Theoretically, according to David Trimble, the UUP are unwilling to share power with Sinn FÈin on the basis that the IRA has not decommissioned its arms. Again and again we have heard the mantra from Trimble of 'democratic politics' being inconsistent with 'private armies'.

How ironic, then, that to secure the requisite signatures in the Assembly to forward his motion to exclude Sinn FÈin, David Trimble relied on the PUP's Billy Hutchinson and David Ervine. Left with only 28 signatures, and needing 30, the UUP leader had no problem securing the support of the two PUP representatives, despite their links with the undecommissioned Ulster Volunteer Force.

This is the same Billy Hutchinson who represented the unionist thugs who heckled, jeered and even bombed children on their way to school in North Belfast.

The UUP's manoeuverings have nothing to do with IRA arms - that issue is just a convenient excuse. They have everything to do with fulfiling a promise David Trimble made one year ago in his by now infamous letter to Ulster Unionist Council delegates in October 2000. Trimble made it clear then that his intention was to bring the entire Good Friday Agreement down, necessitating a review in which unionists would negotiate upwards.

This objective would be achieved by a strategy, Trimble wrote, of creating a crisis in the institutions, pinning the blame on republicans and consequently having the upper hand in a subsequent review scenario.

Compounding all of this disingenuous behaviour was been the surreal intervention of John Reid last weekend in relation to loyalist violence. His tale about how, just as he was about to declare the UDA ceasefire null and void, amazingly, coincidentally, that organisation sent him word they were going to stop running amok, could have begun with the phrase 'once upon a time' and involved three little pigs later. His feigned sincerity would be comical if it were not so nauseating.

Equally, the words of Tony Blair at the British Labour Party conference in Brighton could have been admirable if they reflected the British government's current approach. The Labour leader said that there would be "no return to the days of Protestant supremacy because those days have no place in the modern world. So the unionists must accept justice and equality for nationalists".

The sad reality is that Tony Blair, John Reid and David Trimble are all engaged in a charade of false morality and smokescreen politics. This is not only extremely frustrating for republicans, it is damaging to society as a whole.
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