Unfaithful portrait of Ulster

John Lloyd's romantic portrayal of Ulster unionism ("A terrible viciousness is born", 21 May) is about as accurate as Ruth Dudley Edwards's The Faithful Tribe, which he so lovingly quotes.

For a start, the unionists in the north of Ireland are not a "Presbyterian community". According to the last census, fewer than 350,000 of Ulster's 800,000 Protestants were Presbyterian, and that includes the followers of Paisley.

And when did any unionist regard Tony Blair as a "bearer of their standard"? That he is married to a Catholic, has Catholic children and regularly attends Mass himself puts him beyond the pale for many of them.

Lloyd is correct in describing David Trimble's threat to resign in July as an act of desperation, but the leader of the Official Unionist Party deserves little sympathy. For years, Trimble has been urged to at least try and sell the Good Friday Agreement to the wider unionist community, as the alternative is too awful to contemplate. He has steadfastly refused, choosing instead to provoke and wrong-foot nationalists and republicans in an attempt to garner the support of right-wing bigots in his own party.

Brian Glancey
Chapelhall, North Lanarkshire

This article first appeared in the 28 May 2001 issue of the New Statesman, And men shall speak unto men