Northern Ireland news

Jim Molyneaux's 'close companion' Christopher Luke will devote himself to 'driving David Trimble out of parliament'

Christopher Luke pictured with his beloved `Jimmy' Molyneaux. He says the pair were `close companions'

LORD Molyneaux's grieving 'close companion' Christopher Luke said he is now devoting himself to getting his successor David Trimble "out of parliament".

Mr Luke speaks bitterly of Lord Trimble, who took over the leadership of the UUP in 1995 after Jim Molyneaux stood down and went on to sign the party up to the Good Friday Agreement, which established a power-sharing government.

The 48-year-old long-time confidant of Lord Molyneaux, who lives in Kent, said they shared a conviction that devolution was wrong for the north and would only serve to weaken the union.

"He (Mr Trimble) has destroyed Jimmy's legacy," Mr Luke claimed.

"I shall carry to my grave a tremendous part of guilt and shame at having canvassed to get him elected, believing him to be a traditional unionist.

"I will do anything in my power to get him out of parliament. He was in the House of Commons and is now in the House of Lords."

Mr Luke recalled going to see "my own MP Sir Patrick Mayhew" after the secretary of state had returned from a round of peace talks in the north.

"He said `I know you're quite close to Jim. Today I offered him first ministership and (Molyneaux) said `I don't know whether to laugh or tell you to f*** off'. I'm shell-shocked. What does he want?'

"I said he probably already made it quite clear he doesn't want any devolved legislation. Molyneaux wanted a select committee with increased representation for Northern Ireland in the Lords.

"Trimble, Lord Molyneaux and I were at loggerheads."

Mr Luke, who was 17 when he first met the then 64-year-old James Molyneaux at a political function in London, said the peer believed his successor backed the Good Friday Agreement "thinking you can turn nationalists into nice, loyal Alliance-style unionists".

"He (Molyneaux) knew the danger in placing nationalists of any hue in government. He had a great devotion to the whole of the UK and a great sense of British patriotism."

He added that Lord Molyneaux remained a member of the UUP in his later years out of a sense of "loyalty", but ideologically was closer to the TUV.

"Although Jimmy was twice my age, we both spoke the same language," he said.

"Perhaps I have something of a dated mentality."

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