Extract from a Speech by Ian Paisley at the site of the Battle of the Boyne, (11 May 2007)
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Extract from a Speech by Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), at the site of the Battle of the Boyne, (11 May 2007)
"In ancient verse we are reminded of the glorious words, "On the Green grassy slopes of the Boyne where King William with others did join to defend his religion and his people, on the green grassy slopes of the Boyne."
It is fitting that we should spend some time to remember the Battle of the Boyne. I want to thank you Prime Minister for delivering on your promise to me that you would reinstate this remarkable unspoilt national treasure and open to the public this battle site. Your staff and department of public works have done a magnificent job and I congratulate you all.
The Boyne conjures up all manner of stereotypes many of which are far from the reality of what this ground signifies.
For Protestants and unionists the Boyne carries with it a powerful significance for our culture, our history and our pride. It represents liberty, triumph and determination. Features that have too often been forgotten because of more recent troubles. But as you said those days are now behind us.
For these Islands the Boyne settled the constitution of the monarchy and our parliament for over two hundred years.
For Europe the Boyne was the centrepiece of a series of dynastic disputes that posed relatives on opposite sides in the struggle for power over a disputed territory.
But it is here in Ireland that the Boyne is most significant. I welcome that at last we can embrace this battle site as part of our shared history. Understanding our past is the only sure way to understand the present. For that reason I welcome the commitment the government has given to developing the tourist potential of this battle site. I look forward to seeing the site develop and would ask you to reinstate the Northern field monument lost in the troubles.
Instead of reverberating to the roar of cannon fire, or the charge of men, the shot of musket or the clash of sword steel, today we have the tranquillity of still water where we can contemplate those glorious defenders on these green grassy slopes.
Patrick Cavanagh, the poet wrote words about your own Dublin constituency Prime Minister and they are fitting for this day. "Commemorate me where there is water."
Today we are commemorating not just the Battle of the Boyne by the still waters that once echoed to battle cry. But we are cementing a better relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic one based on mutual respect and good neighbourliness.
Someone once joked, "we won the battle but they got to keep the river". Today the Government and the Department of Public Works has demonstrated in a practical manner that a significant historical site for unionists, that could have been destroyed, has been saved and commemorated for all to enjoy. And for that I say a hearty Ulster "thank you."
I wanted to do something special to mark this moment. I have a constituent Hubert Brown Kerr from Ballymena. Hubert is an enthusiastic historian with a particular interest in battle memorabilia. When he heard about the work that had been done here he said that he could help me mark this moment.
I am pleased to present you and this site with a 350-year-old short carbine musket that was carried here all those years ago. When you touch this musket you feel the history of the time. Hubert has kindly permitted me as his Member of Parliament to present this carbine on loan to the government to display here so as many can have a sense of that history.
Last year at St Andrews you kindly presented me with a beautiful wooden bowl made from a great oak tree that stood here in front of this great mansion house. At that time I said, "welcome home." This musket was used by a soldier in King Jamesí army, I need not remind you that was the losing side. But you can declare to this weapon "welcome home."
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