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DUP is not a 'Devolution at any price' Party, but a 'Devolution on the right terms' Party

09 March 2006

Extract from speech by DUP MEP Jim Allister to the Politics Society at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen on Friday 10 March 2006:-

“The more Bertie Ahern and others suggest, as he did this week, that the purpose of the present political manoeuvrings is to stabilise and put in full working order the Belfast Agreement, the more unlikely is what is euphemistically called “political progress”.  Why? because, Unionism rejects and despises the Belfast Agreement and is not in the business of its resuscitation.

My Party could not have made it clearer in the last election.  Our manifesto, endorsed overwhelmingly by Unionism, binned the failed Agreement’s  cardinal tenet when we said “Inclusive, mandatory coalition government which includes Sinn Fein under d’Hondt or any other system is out of the question.” It was out of the question in 2005 and its still out of the question in 2006 and would still be out of the question whether or not Hain foolishly follows the Adams line and tries to bounce us by calling the Assembly with the 6 week statutory deadline. The fresh election, which such a course could precipitate, holds no fears for the DUP.

An end to the Assembly might be the end of the key base for more minor parties, but within the DUP it might also be seen as the collapse of the final lynchpin of the Belfast Agreement itself.

This is not a “devolution at any price” Party, but a “devolution on the right terms” Party. At present there seems little prospect of  acceptable executive devolution. Hence the compelling logic in saying only progressive devolution is attainable, unless the SDLP finds the courage to move out of the shadow of Sinn Fein and accept our standing offer of voluntary coalition.”

Turning to the political situation in Fermanagh & South Tyrone the MEP said:

“The self-inflicted damage which Unionism has suffered from time to time is sharply illustrated by the present misrepresentation of this constituency by Sinn Fein.  Bloated ego and a refusal to recognise the sea-change which has occurred in Unionism sadly caused the Ulster Unionist Party last year to split the vote and hand this seat back to Gildernew.  Arlene Foster, as the result confirmed, was clearly the strongest Unionist candidate, yet the junior Party in unionism insisted in indulging itself in a contest where their only contribution was to assist Sinn Fein.  Their irresponsibility, both here and in South Belfast, rightly caused anger and resentment throughout unionism right across the Province.

I trust next time they will know their place and do what the broad unionist community expects and keep out of a fight they can never win.  I believe Arlene Foster will be the MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, but at least four years later than she would have been but for the reckless posturing of Tom Elliott and the UUP.”

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