Trimble bemused by 'togetherness'
Former Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble has said he is " delighted yet a little bemused at their togetherness" as Ian Paisley, Martin McGuinness and Nigel Dodds prepare for a five-day promotional trip to America.
The three men are off to New York and Washington, where they will meet President Bush, call at the NY stock exchange and rub shoulders with 'Big Apple' Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
"Most people will welcome their conversion to the cause of moderation, even if it all is a bit ironic," said Lord Trimble.
"It's good to see them embrace the Good Friday Agreement which was dressed up - in the same clothes let it be said - and renamed the St Andrews Deal."
Lord Trimble added that he believed the economic benefits of the trip would be limited, "although it will be good for the image of Northern Ireland and for Paisley and McGuinness to be seen and photographed with George Bush" .
He added: "One would feel they should concentrate on the pressing issues at home, like the Reform of Public Services, their internal problems and the changes in education, where there seems to be little positive thinking."
Lord Trimble, who was in the DUP firing line when he shared power with SDLP - "constitutional nationalists, one must remember", said that many erstwhile supporters of the DUP and Sinn Fein were "keeping their heads down and crying into their beer" as the Paisley-McGuinness bandwagon rolled ever onwards.
"People who followed Ian Paisley blindly during his never-never years must be rather puzzled," he said.
"It is ironic that the parties who caused so much negativity and problems should now be set on this course of agreement, having so consistently criticised those who made the original ground-breaking decisions.
"But it's good to see them sharing power, and we wish them well. I hope benefits accrue from the US trip."