A prophet is not without honour save in his own country. Despite his contribution to a peaceful, stable Northern Ireland, Lord Trimble is frequently evoked as ‘bête noire’ by both main communities here. The DUP continues to demonise anything in which the peer is involved, oblivious to the irony that it has now wholeheartedly embraced Trimble’s power-sharing project. Nationalist hostility is perhaps, on the surface, more surprising, but it is in large part based on deep seated suspicion of unionism which is articulate and forward thinking, and to a lesser extent on personal antipathies toward the man’s sometimes frosty demeanour.
Attacks from both sides have accompanied suggestions that Trimble might play a role in any Conservative government formed after the next election. Nicholas Watt predicts that he is likely to become attorney general, a post which has been mooted before and which a predecessor as Ulster Unionist leader, Edward Carson, held previously. Lord Trimble certainly has the formidable legal mind which would be required in such a position. Despite the personal animosity he attracts from erstwhile political opponents, he would constitute a perfect example of an Ulsterman bringing considerable talents to the cabinet table.
In Northern Ireland Trimble’s reputation might not yet be rehabilitated. But his presence in any British government would be purely on merit.