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Trimble has 'no regrets' over Assembly absence

Former First Minister Lord Trimble insists he has "no regrets" at not being involved in the newly devolved Assembly.

The ex-UUP leader sounded relaxed as the Belfast Telegraph caught up with him on a canal holiday with wife Daphne in the English Midlands.

Speaking from their newly-acquired narrowboat, he said: "Ah, the new Assembly - has it really reached the 100 days stage?

"I haven't really been keeping up to speed, but I'm delighted to see it all going so smoothly, and that Ian Paisley and his pal Martin McGuinness seem to be getting along so swimmingly.

"One wonders why the DUP took so long to come to terms with the realities of Northern Ireland, and I can only come to the conclusion that the St Andrews Agreement is, in fact, the Good Friday Agreement for slow learners.

"Still, one must be magnanimous and wish them all well. They're now facing the difficulties of running the country and keeping within budget."

The peer, who is now part of David Cameron's Tory team in the House of Lords, added: "I can look back with satisfaction at the ground work I did in setting up the Good Friday Agreement, which was superseded by its identical twin - the St Andrews Deal.

"I have no regrets that I'm not part of it now. It was time to move on, and I'm delighted that Northern Ireland has its own Assembly. But it could and should have been set up years earlier, without the pain and the procrastination."

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