East Londonderry DUP 30th Anniversary Dinner.
The recent success of Nigel Lutton’s campaign in Mid Ulster has shown us that there is a growing appetite within the community for increased co-operation and working together across the party divides. The long, bitter years of Unionist acrimony and back-biting are at last coming to an end.
That is what the community wants to see. Indeed, they take a very dim view of any who stand outside that growing consensus. The DUP stands four-square in support of Unionist co-operation. We will continue to advance that agenda, which has received the endorsement of the Unionist community in Mid Ulster so recently.
Northern Ireland’s position inside the United Kingdom has never been more secure. Poll after poll shows that to be the case. No serious commentator believes the Sinn Fein claims about a united-Ireland by 2016? On every level and by every analysis the Republican campaign has been a monumental failure. The people who swore there would be no return to Stormont now function as Ministers of the crown. Unionism has won the battle of ideas. Political nationalism in the meantime demonstrates its intellectual bankruptcy by deliberately engineering confrontations around issues like the public display of the Union Flag. They do this to distract from their failure to achieve their precious united-Ireland pipe dream and to keep their backwoodsmen happy.
The DUP is the party for Northern Ireland. We are using devolution to strengthen the Union, expand the economy, build for the future and cement political stability. Thirty years ago Unionism was in retreat, the combined forces of nationalism were in the ascendency and our place within the United Kingdom was under threat. Today, we are leading a government in which Unionists are setting the agenda. No longer are the decisions made over our heads by direct rule fly-by-nights with no stake in our society and no interest in our people.
Whilst life was very different thirty years ago, our party can lay claim to establishing devolution on a firm and secure footing and for laying the groundwork not only for the next thirty years, but for Northern Ireland’s next century inside the United Kingdom.”