Trimble can't have it both ways
David Trimble's attack on Sinn Féin in the House of Commons on
Monday is a cause for concern. Trimble made clear his continuing
unwillingness to accept Sinn Féin's right to seats on the Six
It appears that some Unionists, David Trimble included, have
sustained forlorn hopes of renegotiating the Good Friday
Agreement. A clear message needs to go out that such hopes must
now be abandoned.
David Trimble will have to accept Sinn Féin's right to represent
all those who voted for the party, to be in the Six County
Assembly, in the Executive and in the All-Ireland Ministerial
Council. Sinn Féin should accept no limitations upon the right to
exercise its electoral mandate.
David Trimble cannot pose as an upholder of the Agreement and
accept the mantle of First Minister while attempting to negate
the commitments made in the Agreement to equality of treatment
and to the rights of representation.
Conservative and Unionist opposition to aspects of the Northern
Ireland Bill in the House of Commons reflects the continuing
resistance from those quarters to the development of equal rights
and justice. It was significant that David Trimble's deputy John
Taylor made clear that he may oppose the Bill.
The Bill, any supplementary legislation abd the British Irish
Agreement must accurately reflect the spirit of the Good Friday
The legislation contained in the Bill is an enabling mechanism
and should facilitate the delivery of that which was agreed on
Good Friday. This goes beyond institutions and covers such issues
as equality, justice, Irish language, demilitarisation, political
prisoners and policing.
Nationalists and republicans must remain focused on ensuring that
this agenda is pursued with vigour in the face of the evident
The Irish and British governments also have clear
responsibilities in upholding the commitments made in the
Agreement and in overseeing the smoothest possible transition to
a new political scenario.
The Spanish state has now clearly signalled its intention to
crush all expression of Basque nationalism. Following from their
imprisonment of the entire National Executive of Herri Batasuna
comes the closure last week of the daily newspaper, Egin, on foot
of allegations that it has financial links with ETA.
It is a directly anti-democratic act of censorship against a
major newspaper (Egin has a circulation in the Basque Country
similar to that of the Irish News in the Six Counties).
Repression will never crush the spirit of Basque independence and
the Spanish government should immediately enter into dialogue to
resolve the conflict in the Basque Country.