Flash: Trimble resigns; new Direct Ruler appointed
David Trimble is resigning as leader of the Ulster Unionist
He met party leaders in private today and told them he was not
going to try to stay on.
After a General Election in which he lost his own seat and saw
his parliamentary party reduced to just one MP.
"At a private meeting with the President and Chairman of the
Ulster Unionist Party this morning I indicated to them that I do
not wish to continue as leader," said Mr Trimble in a statement.
There will now be a special meeting of the ruling Ulster
Unionist Council to elect a new leader at which point Mr Trimble
would resign, he said.
In his statement Mr Trimble said he wanted to thank all members
of the party for their support and help over the last 10 years.
"There have been difficult times, but also times when we have
been able to make a difference," he said.
"I have no doubt that Northern Ireland is a much better place
and unionism greatly advantaged because of our efforts," said
the man who jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize with former SDLP
leader John Hume for their work to secure a political settlement
in Northern Ireland.
Mr Trimble said he was pleased to have had the privilege of
leading "what I regard as the best and most democratic political
grouping in Ulster".
The Party chairman will be arranging for a meeting of the party
Executive to organise a special meeting of the Ulster Unionist
Council which will elect a new leader and at which point Mr
Trimble said he would resign.
Meetings of the hundreds strong grass-roots members of the
council take some time to organise and it is expected to be at
least two weeks until they gather.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has named a new
cabinet following the return of his Labour party to government
with a majority of 66 MPs, down from 161 last time.
Peter Hain has been named new Direct Ruler in Ireland, replacin
the outgoing Paul Murphy.
Mr Hain today said his priority was the restoration of the
He said goodwill and effort on all sides would make it possible
to "crack this problem". British prime minister Tony Blair had
stressed the importance of securing a permanent peace deal, Mr
He will arrive in Belfast on Monday to begin work. "There is no
prize more important than peace," he said.
Mr Hain, speaking in London where he was being briefed by
officials, said the election results had sent out a message. "I
intend to take account of this and to make sure we bring
"I believe with effort and goodwill we can crack this problem
and make sure we get progress and momentum and get everybody
"We have had now a tremendous period of peace since the Good
Friday Agreement was signed and got on the road. We must get
that back and working together."