Jonathan Caine, a former adviser on Northern Ireland to the Conservative Party in both government and opposition and now a Director at Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, reviews David Trimble: the Price of Peace by Frank Millar.
For many years, when asked by politicians I have advised on Northern Ireland, ‘what should I read?’ top of the list would have been Peter Utley’s 1975 classic Lessons of Ulster. Since 2004 I have had no hesitation in placing alongside it David Trimble: The Price of Peace by the award winning London Editor of The Irish Times, Frank Millar. It is quite outstanding – a must for anybody interested in the politics of that wonderful but much misunderstood part of our country.
When the book first appeared the DUP had already become the majority unionist party at the previous year’s Assembly elections but the 2005 General Election rout which ended Trimble’s leadership of the UUP had yet to take place. Now, to mark the tenth anniversary of the Belfast Agreement – and by coincidence the departure of Ian Paisley from frontline politics – Millar has brought out a second, revised edition with a new introduction and an additional conclusion to bring the story up to date.
Here I should declare two interests. First, Millar is a longstanding friend from whose wisdom I have benefited enormously over the years. I was honoured in 2004 when he asked me to be one of the five people to read and comment on the original typescript. It was so gripping I could hardly put it down. Re-reading it last week was a similar experience.