Trimble 'will not resign'
Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble will not step down as party
leader regardless of the outcome of an extraordinary twelfth "showdown"
between rival wings of his party.
On Saturday, David Trimble faces another meeting of his party's ruling
Ulster Unionist Council amid claims the party is heading for a split.
The North is currently in a stage of political deadlock. Its
power-sharing Executive at Stormont has been suspended since last
Hardline Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson has insisted that
concerns within his party about recent proposals from the British and
Irish governments would not be removed by diluting the Irish
government's role on a proposed ceasefire monitoring body.
Mr Donaldson and two fellow Ulster Unionist MPs are protesting
disciplinary action brought against them as a result of their
resignation from the party whip at the British parliament in June.
Amid speculation that the two governments are about to make further
concessions on the issue of the monitoring body in order to boost David
Trimble's leadership, Donaldson claimed unionists had at least nine
other concerns about the current plan to finally implement the 1998
Good Friday Agreement.
Donaldson's hardline opposition to the governments' joint declaration
issued in May is just the latest expression of resentment within the
Ulster Unionist Party at the peace process and the subsequent erosion
of unionist power in the North of Ireland.
Meanwhile, former US senator George Mitchell, who helped broker the
Good Friday Agreement, has held informal talks with a number of
political leaders in the North of Ireland. Among the party leaders he
met yesterday were David Trimble and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mr Mitchell urged politicians to
continue their efforts to implement the Agreement and take a long-term
view of the process. He said that when the Agreement was signed in 1998
he knew there would still be a number of setbacks but said people
should focus on the progress that had been made so far.
Mr Mitchell said that while true peace could be generations away, he
was encouraged that the Six Counties had enjoyed one of its quietest
summers this year with a significant reduction in street disturbances.
He said: "I think it demonstrates to people the benefits of pursuing
process of dialogue as opposed to one of conflict to resolve political
differences. At the same time I think it has never been realistic to
expect that problems and attitudes which developed over very long
periods of time and indeed in some cases centuries will resolve
immediately on the creation of an agreement."
POSTCARD CAMPAIGN FOR ELECTIONS
In Britain, the Wolfe Tone Society (WTS) has launched a postcard
campaign in Britain aimed at pushing Tony Blair to reinstate the
electoral process in the North.
The card has a politically cutting cartoon on the front and has a
prewritten message on the back and is addressed to Tony Blair. It
requires each person to just sign and send it.
"We want people to show their anger at the abolition of the democratic
right to vote that Tony Blair has taken away from the people," says
Denis Grace, WTS convenor. "The Good Friday Agreement is an
internationally ratified agreement and cannot be withdrawn and used as
a hostage by Tony Blair.
"Tony Blair portrays himself as a person who brings human and
democratic rights onto the international stage, and yet he has been
found to be wanting in these regards on his own doorstep.
"The campaign is timely, in that Gerry Adams was in America recently
attempting to bolster support there for the Six-County elections. With
the growing lobby of support we feel that the postcard campaign will
make an impact, and we urge as many people as possible to send a
postcard in. We will send them out to readers, and we urge people to
take more then one and pass them on to friends and family. They can be
obtained by calling the WTS on 0208 442 8778 or e-mailing us at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Please give your address and postcode,
whichever method you use."