A former aide to David Trimble has said that he believes the DUP and UUP should withdraw from the Executive after being deceived over “letters of comfort” to IRA members.
Speaking to the News Letter on condition of anonymity, he expressed utter dismay at what has emerged this week.
He claimed that there had been a deception perpetrated from the top of Tony Blair’s Government, meaning that devolution was restored in 2007 on a “false premise”.
He said: “We [in the UUP] worked hard and took the knocks to make a better Northern Ireland. We tried to be open, honest and transparent as best we could and at some point the electorate decided that wasn’t good enough.
“What you had was another party coming in, building on our work but seemingly doing so in a much less open, honest and transparent method of operating.
“We’ve now discovered that the Government was also being completely duplicitous.”
The former senior political aide said that he feared that the DUP’s famous iron discipline meant that the party leadership was not being held to account by its members in the way that the “open and leakable” UUP had been when problems arose on Lord Trimble’s watch as leader of unionism.
“Why isn’t one DUP MLA standing up and saying: How did this happen?
“If this had been the UUP, Jeffrey and Arlene would have been speaking out, the Ulster Unionist Council would have been called, fingers would have been pointed; none of that is happening because they have all gone to ground.”
The former Stormont aide, who alongside Lord Trimble met Mr Blair over many years, said that “Tony Blair as a Prime Minister and Peter Hain as a Secretary of State were looking for a position in the sun and they were desperate to leave on a high”.
“My personal opinion is that [for Mr Blair and Mr Hain] the people of Northern Ireland, long-term stability, respect for law and order, the views of the victims, the views of the ordinary man in the street who abided by the law, were irrelevant.
“What was relevant was to get a place in the sun. Plenty of people suggest Tony Blair played fast and loose with international law, so why not with a little local difficulty?”