Parties do not want to walk away: Trimble

David Trimble
David Trimble

Former first minister David Trimble has said he is confident that none of the political parties in Northern Ireland will want to walk away permanently from the Assembly following the election on March 2.

Lord Trimble was a key player in Northern Ireland’s peace process, and his role in the Good Friday Agreement helped lay the foundation for a power-sharing government in the province.

Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Ulster show today, the former Ulster Unionist Party leader said he was “quite sure” there would be discussions between the main parties after the upcoming election on March 2.

And he spoke of his confidence that those talks would be “positive”.

Addressing the issue of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal – Lord Trimble called on Parliament to take urgent action to prevent further public funds from being squandered.

The failed RHI scheme, which is projected to cost Stormont £490m, was the catalyst that sparked the current political crisis in Northern Ireland. Costs of the RHI debacle have been estimated at around £85,000 a day.

“It is not good enough to sit back and allow this scheme to roll on, building up huge profits for the people who are operating them”, Lord Trimble said.

He said the introduction of a windfall tax would take the “excessive profits” of RHI scheme “out of the picture”, adding: “The Assembly is not in a position to legislate. But Parliament is capable of legislating and there is a lot of money to be saved.

“We can’t just have this money pouring out at the cost of public services in Northern Ireland.”

Regarding the upcoming Assembly election on March 2, Lord Trimble said the electorate in Northern Ireland had a choice to make.

“He added: They can continue with the existing parties, and they’ve had 10 years of the Sinn Fein/DUP government.

“Are they happy with that? Are the products of it good? I think it is fairly obvious what the answer to that is.

“If people want to see things improved they have the option. I hope they take it.

“We will wait and see. I’m not making any judgements as to what will happen.”

The former MP for Upper Bann also said the public were entitled to know “the whole truth” behind the RHI fiasco before they cast their votes in six weeks time.

He added: “The burden is on the Northern Ireland departments and the Secretary of State of making sure that in the coming weeks, as much as possible of that truth is in the public domain.”