|Sinn Fein||5 seats|
|UCUNF (Conservatives and Unionists)||0 seats|
|Sinn Fein||5 seats|
|UCUNF (Conservatives and Unionists)||0 seats|
Created to ‘strengthen Northern Ireland’s position within the UK’, the DUP have spent their whole existence convincing protestants in Northern Ireland that they alone can keep the union together.
This message has been the core of the DUP mantra at every election since the 1970’s – until this one.
This election has created a paradigm shift in politics in Northern Ireland. Suddenly, according to the DUP, being a strong and equal part of the United Kingdom is second to protecting the ‘special’ status that excludes Northern Ireland from ever becoming anything other than an unwieldy bolt-on.
When the leader of one of the two main political parties in the UK states clearly and repeatedly that he refuses to accept Northern Ireland as a ‘semi-detached state’- making the full inclusion of Northern Ireland a central pillar of his leadership, you would expect the party that has worn its ‘unionist’ credentials like a Chelsea pensioner wears his campaign medals to hail this as a historical moment for unionism in Northern Ireland.
Strangely, the DUP – the party that only exists to ensure Northern Irelands place in the UK – has done everything it can to undermine this support from the man who could be the next Prime Minister. The DUP have changed their fundamental stance from demanding to be an equal within the UK to ‘Northern Ireland needs to be treated differently to England, Scotland and Wales’.
Could it possibly be that the DUP have now decided that they prefer being the big fish in the small pond so much that they are prepared to undermine their very reason for existence? Their shallow cries of ‘unionist unity’ seem to miss the point that if they were prepared to step aside from their own ‘exclusionist’ agenda, Northern Ireland could find itself in the strongest position in history regarding membership of the UK.
The simple fact is that if the DUP could put down their sectarian sword and their exclusionist shield, Northern Ireland could make the next step in the process of ‘growing up’. If the Conservative party are prepared to make a committed stand on Northern Irelands membership of the UK, Labour and the Liberal Democrats would be forced to follow (Labour are already rumoured to be considering running Council candidates in Northern Ireland next year).
The very thought of a Westminster election in 2014/15 which sees Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives standing candidates in every constituency, without the childish infighting that defines ‘Northern Ireland Unionists’ is the biggest example of ‘unionist unity’ that anyone can imagine.
The only argument that seems to be coming from the DUP to explain why they are against the move to offer ‘real’ politics to the people is that if they are independent they can fight for what is best for Northern Ireland. Even with a hung parliament, do they really believe that 9 DUP MP’s will have any power to ensure that we get more than England Scotland or Wales?
The DUP need to decide very quickly if they are really a party that wants Northern Ireland to be an equal member of the UK or have they become the Northern Ireland independence party
Well, through a bit of messing about and even Eamonn Mallie's intersession Hannah, Freya, Peppa, Kitty and even I got a photo with David Cameron.
Our two great parties have created a dynamic new electoral force for Northern Ireland. And it’s because we made that step that today we are not just saying that we are the party of the union. We are showing that we are the party of the union. The party of Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England – with candidates standing in every part of the United Kingdom.
Nobody else can say that. Not Labour. Not the Liberal Democrats. And none of the local parties here in Northern Ireland. So why is this so important?
It’s important because of our deep commitment to the union. So let me repeat the pledge I made to you in Belfast a year and a half ago. I will never be neutral on the Union.
We passionately believe that England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are stronger together, weaker apart – and the union of our two parties strengthens those bonds. But our new electoral force is also important for another reason. For as long as anyone can remember, politics here has been dominated by constitutional issues – the latest developments in the peace process.
This election presents a new opportunity to participate in the mainstream of British politics. Mainstream politics in which issues like taxes, pensions, defence and foreign policy. That are decided in Westminster yet affect every single person in Northern Ireland are part of the mainstream political debate.
Mainstream politics in which people in Northern Ireland can participate at all levels of government in the UK – from the council chamber right the way to the Cabinet table itself. At this election, only Conservatives and Unionists are offering people in Northern Ireland that opportunity - the chance to elect MPs who can be part of the government of the United Kingdom.
We’ve got record government debt. Record government borrowing. Unemployment is up. In this contract are the radical plans to dig us out of that mess. Plans to make government accountable, stop the waste, stop Labour’s jobs tax – and get better services for the taxes you pay. Plans to make the UK the best place in the world to do business. Stopping the rise of red tape, lower corporation tax rates, abolishing employment taxes on the first ten jobs created by new businesses. We’ll bring a new age of enterprise and ambition across the United Kingdom.
In this part of the UK we’ll go even further, looking at ways of turning Northern Ireland into an enterprise zone. And we’ll produce a government paper examining how we can change the corporation tax rate here, so that we can get even more investment coming in. We want to grow the size of the private sector in Northern Ireland to create new jobs and investment.
But let me also say this. The country faces some difficult decisions ahead on how we will tackle the deficit.
I want people to know that if elected I will make these decisions with compassion, reasonableness and a concern for the most disadvantaged. That is who I am and that is what a government I lead will be like. So we will continue to fund Northern Ireland according to its needs, and we will tackle the deficit while protecting the essential frontline public services that we all rely on. There is no way Northern Ireland will be singled out over and above any other part of the UK.
I know that for many years people in Northern Ireland felt cut off from the rest of the United Kingdom, including from the government. I want to end that sense of isolation.
I want to give voters in Northern Ireland the right – for the first time in generations – to vote for a party capable of forming the government of our United Kingdom to enable people in Northern Ireland to play their full part in the affairs of the country as a whole and to realise at long last the basic democratic right to equal citizenship within the United Kingdom.
That can only happen through the partnership of our two parties. Other parties can talk about this. Only Conservatives and Unionists can deliver. Of all the parties standing in Northern Ireland at this election – only we can form the government of our country.
Of all the parties standing in Northern Ireland at this election – only we can get a decisive mandate and strong majority in the House of Commons. Of all the parties promising change – only we can deliver it.
Woodward praises Peter Robinson, the DUP leader, as a "strong leader" for the way in which he pressed ahead with devolving policing powers. Woodward says Robinson understood the dangers of political uncertainty.
"adopting a "reckless" approach to Northern Ireland, which threatens to destabilise the peace process by strengthening the hand of dissident republican terrorists".
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to see if the views expressed by Shaun Woodward, as our Secretary of State, in the Guardian on 2 May accurately reflect government policy.
The Secretary of State has already declared he is neutral on the Union. The Belfast Agreement is not neutral, it upholds the right of the people of Northern Ireland to be part of the United Kingdom. A Secretary of State for NI might be able to justify a general approach of neutrality as between the political parties in Northern Ireland. But by explicitly attacking of the Ulster Unionist election arrangements he is effectively asking unionists to vote for the DUP.
I therefore must ask you is it the policy of the Labour party to be neutral on the union and to encourage support for the DUP? Do you, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom value the union with Northern Ireland?
I also have to say that it is completely unacceptable to suggest as does the Secretary of State in the Guardian article that David Cameron and Reg Empey are somehow “strengthening the hand of dissident republican terrorists" and I would hope that you would restrain the Secretary of State from making such intemperate comments. Perhaps you would encourage him to show some concern that for the first time in 88 years the police are unavailable the protect voters in the environs of our polling stations during this election.
You may also want to consider the Secretary of State’s apparent lack of concern about the recent budget cuts in NI of £435 million, resulting in Health immediately losing £113 million. Is such an assault on frontline public services congruent with Labour party policy? And if not, should not the Secretary of State have a position on the matter?
The Rt. Hon the Lord Trimble
Who can you trust? Who is your hero in this election?
Watch and see (be patient and watch - it will take a little while). You will be surprised.