On Monday, October 29, 2001, hardline unionists seek to block David Trimble‘s re-election as First Minister of Northern Ireland.
As the hardline Ulster Unionists express reluctance to support the current stance of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leadership, Trimble is bidding to win over crucial support for his campaign to be re-elected as First Minister.
Although the meeting of the UUP’s executive over the previous weekend endorses Trimble’s return to office in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the re-election bid can be thwarted by a failure to win grassroots support.
At least two Assembly Members express grave reservations about supporting Trimble’s re-election as First Minister, and anti-agreement factions within the UUP call a meeting of the party’s ruling council to be held within the next three weeks.
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, Assembly Member Pauline Armitage says she remains unhappy about the direction the party is taking and the questions about decommissioning remains unanswered. Earlier North Down Assembly Member Peter Weir says that the Irish Republican Army‘s (IRA) move on decommissioning is a “one-off stunt.”
In order to be returned as First Minister, along with Deputy First Minister Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader-in-waiting Mark Durkan, Trimble must establish a majority amongst both unionist and nationalist Assembly Members.
While it is anticipated that the elections of the First and Deputy First Ministers will be held later in the week, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) calls on its members to prepare for Assembly elections. The anti-Good Friday Agreement DUP anticipate a collapse of the power-sharing Assembly if the re-elections of top ministerial posts fail to return a quorum of support from the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). The DUP says that meetings are to be held on October 29 to discuss the party’s strategy.
The Progressive Unionist Party’s (PUP) Billy Hutchinson says that too many concessions have been given to nationalists.
(From: “Trimble attempts to drum up re-election support,” 4NI.co.uk, October 29, 2001)