David Trimble 1944–2022: Ex-IRA killer says late unionist’s 1998 deal will not lead to Irish unity in his lifetime

A former IRA killer has said that the 1998 agreement brokered by the late Lord Trimble will not lead to a united Ireland within the lifetime of any PIRA members.

By Adam Kula
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 12:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 1:33 pm

Anthony McIntyre, a 65-year-old who is now living in the Irish republic, voted against the Good Friday Agreement himself.

He said that Mr Trimble’s 1998 deal only served to highlight how “futile” the Troubles had been, since it differed little from the power-sharing proposals of the Sunningdale Agreement over two decades earlier (a deal which was subsequently killed off by loyalist street protests in 1974).

The Good Friday Agreement was approved by 71% of voters, despite unionist fears that it gave away too much to republicans and could be used as a springboard towards Irish unity.

An IRA propaganda flag

Mr McIntyre told the News Letter, that some in the republican leadership were “enthusiastic about it” because it offered them “a career path”.

The grassroots were less impressed, but “went out and voted for it because they were told to”.


Antony McIntyre and David Trimble

“I remember a meeting when they were trying to sell the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

“It was described by a leading Sinn Fein figure as, not a stepping stone to a united Ireland, but a stepping stone to a stepping stone – which to me was utter [rubbish].”

For Mr McIntyre, the agreement was “a British declaration of intent to stay”.

He went on: “The Good Friday Agreement turned republicanism on its head. It completely invalidated the republican raison d’etre. It said to republicanism:

“’Your campaign of coercion is wrong, now you want to go for consent. These are what the British terms for Irish unity always were – it’s not that Britain is opposed to Irish unity; it’s opposed to the terms on which you pursue Irish unity.’

“If they’d signed up to that 40 years ago we’d have never had the war.”


“The war just helped delay a solution. Now I don’t get into the grounds of criticising it or sort of condemning it and moralising about it. But strategically the war was futile.

“Had the republicans signalled to the British in the mid-70s how little they were prepared to settle for in terms of traditional goals, the British would’ve moved heaven and Earth to compel the unionists to settle up with republicansim.

“It’s very, very hard to sit down and justify any life lost from anybody post-Sunningdale.”

That’s because of “how little difference there is” between Sunningdale and Good Friday Agreement.

As to whether the Good Friday Agreement did indeed pave the way for Irish unity, he said: “No I don’t see it as a stepping stone.

“Anybody who fought in the Provisional IRA will not live to see a united Ireland. I’m absolutely certain.

“You tell me – when’s a united Ireland going to come? It’s not going to come in the next 20 years, and sure most of us will be dead by then.”


Asked if any consideration had ever been given to killing Trimble, Mr McIntyre said he that, by the mid-90s, Sinn Fein was meeting with major UK and US statesmen, and whilst that was going on killing an elected unionist would have been seen as “beyond the pale”.

“Would they have liked to have taken him out? I’m sure there were people who’d have liked to take anybody out who disagrees with them,” he said.

“You always get that sentiment in totalitarian structures, authoritarian structures.

“I’m sure you’d have got people saying ‘ah we should shoot the b*****d’. But it was never a realistic strategic proposal.”

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