TRIMBLE IS showing courageous leadership in pushing his party towards this historic compromise. Sadly there is still a large UUP constituency which wants no deal with republicans or nationalists. If they reject Trimble's advice and go with the ultras they risk not only the Agreement but the union itself. Trimble's position would be impossible and unionism would be driven en bloc to the conservative margins. No government would stand by a reconstituted right-wing unionism led by Jeffrey Donaldson or Peter Robinson. The bits of the Good Friday Agreement that the refuseniks don't like would continue to be implemented while the unionists' beloved assembly would be dissolved.
The Sunday Telegraph
DAVID TRIMBLE'S volte-face last week is a triumph for the forces of persuasion in the Northern Ireland Office. On Thursday afternoon, Mr Trimble offered a deal that no one understood to a meeting that no one heard. In a show of hands, which we did not see, a significant number of delegates are reported to have rejected the deal. Even the sleepiest Ulster Unionists can see that if Mr Trimble's proposals went ahead tomorrow, they would wake up with Martin McGuinness as their Minister for Agriculture, along with a fully armed IRA that still hands out beatings and shootings. Alongside it would be a British Government that still wishes to dismantle the Royal Ulster Constabulary and to make any new police force accountable to a political board that includes two representatives of Sinn Fein. When Unionists contemplate the sweep of that particular combination, they tend to fall rather silent about the details. (Jenny McCartney)
The Independent on Sunday
DAVID TRIMBLE has finally reached the point of thinking that Sinn Fein, even the IRA itself, are people he can do business with - and who genuinely want to do business with him. Furthermore, it appears that a good majority of his fellow assemblymen are prepared to agree with him. To seize the moment, Mr Trimble has to ask the Ulster Unionist party to act out of character. It has long practice in saying No on behalf of its sectional interests, none in saying Yes on behalf of the whole people of Northern Ireland. What he has to offer is the beginning of trust, which sceptics, cynics and false patriots will be eager to tear down. Mr Trimble may not emerge victorious in the final battles ahead; but he has already earned his Peace medal twice over. Now he has to do so yet one more time. No reasonable person could want him to fail.
The Sunday Times
DAVID TRIMBLE'S task in the next few weeks is to convince his party's mainstream supporters to take this risk. We believe he deserves to succeed. Peter Mandelson's assurance that devolution and decommissioning should stand and fall together is a binding one. It should persuade unionist waverers to accept Mr Trimble's judgment. It means that Mr Mandelson will have no option but to pull the plug on Sinn Fein's hopes of sharing power if its military wing retains its guns and Semtex once Britain and the unionists have delivered their side of the deal. Britain will be forced to dissolve the Northern Ireland assembly and Sinn Fein and the IRA would be to blame.
Unionists should consider the bleak prospect of turning back now. Northern Ireland's place in the United Kingdom is universally guaranteed so long as the majority wishes it. Unionists would be mad to throw their gains away now.Reuse content