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The end of Mike's political dream

By Eddie McIlwaine

When Captain Terence O'Neill was about to resign as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in April 1969, my task was to sit with him in his office at Stormont to write what my editor called "a colour piece," before he left the post.

Why he agreed to my presence I'll never know. But what I was writing inevitably came across as a sad story of a politician whose dream of solving the country's problems was shattered. There was little colour to put into print.

Down the years I've observed the Ulster Unionist Party breaking the hearts of other politicians and now it is the turn of Mike Nesbitt to suffer the slings and arrows.

I've known Mike for a while and sat in several Press boxes with him during his time as a television journalist. I was surprised when he agreed to take on the leadership of the party five years ago. He seemed too nice a chap for the job.

So now he is stepping down. Mike can have no regrets. I hope that one day soon he gets behind a microphone again. Now he and his wife Lynda will have the time to catch up with what is going on in their favourite radio soap, The Archers.

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