Poacher turned Gamekeeper? How things have come full circle for Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson. Credit: PA

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has finally found his voice and backbone. Where have you been, stranger?

And while he faces strident opponents within unionism over his decision to return to Stormont, he should know how to deal with them.  

After all he himself was once a 'naysayer', opposed to the Good Friday Agreement signed by his then party leader, David Trimble of the Ulster Unionists, in 1998.

As an agreement rejectionist, Sir Jeffrey eventually resigned from the Ulster Unionists in December 2003 and joined the DUP.

Twenty years later, things have come full circle. Sir Jeffrey has said yes to the restoration of power-sharing at Stormont and he has come out fighting.

He has talked about being "on the front foot" and knows the importance of that all too well.

After signing the historic peace agreement in 1998, Mr Trimble often appeared defensive and on the back foot.

The Ulster Unionists are widely regarded as having done a poor job as they tried to justify their decision to sign the agreement, ahead of the referendum that saw the people of Northern Ireland ratify the peace deal on May 22 1998.

As an anti-agreement unionist back then, Sir Jeffrey was perhaps glad to see Mr Trimble do a sub-standard job as salesman.

His public statements over the last few days suggest he has no intention of making the same mistake. 

Having once been a poacher, he might prove to be a good gamekeeper.

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