Statement by Ian Paisley (DUP) at the launch of the DUP manifesto for the Northern Ireland Assembly Election on 7 March 2007, (21 February 2007)
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Statement by Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), at the launch of 'Getting it Right' the DUP manifesto for the Northern Ireland Assembly Election on 7 March 2007, (21 February 2007)
"Today we are pleased to launch our manifesto for the election and our platform for the next four years. It is a manifesto which will deliver a better future for the province and I recommend it to the people of Northern Ireland.
Over three years ago, in November 2003 the unionist people put their faith in this party and I believe the record will demonstrate that we have repaid that trust.
We promised a fair deal and today we are delivering on that promise.
This election gives the unionist electorate to endorse our approach for the future.
Our manifesto is entitled, "Getting it right".
This is the key to us in this campaign and throughout our negotiations in recent years. It is a strategy that is delivering. We should stick to this winning formula.
This manifesto sets out;
I believe that over the last three and a half years we have a record to be proud of;
We have transformed unionism and increased confidence in the unionist community.
- As recently as 2002 over one in three unionists believed there would be a united Ireland by 2020; today over four in five do not.
We have proved those who said the Belfast Agreement could not be renegotiated wrong and have delivered fundamental changes to the way in which devolution operates.
- In a new administration DUP Ministers would have a veto on all major decisions and total control of north south relations.
We have forced republicans to jump first and deliver before unionists are expected to move.
- Taking a pledge of office to support the police is a precondition to holding office and all IRA criminal and paramilitary activity must end before Sinn Fein can be in an Executive.
We have set the political agenda and ensured that there can be no devolution of policing and justice without our support and no Sinn Fein Minister even once there is devolution.
- This means that the unionist fear that Gerry Kelly could be Policing and Justice Minister will never be realised.
On any analysis huge progress has been made for the unionist community and towards a lasting form of democratic devolution.
Last week Reg Empey said you could not fill a telephone box with people who though things have changed over the last three and a half years. Where has he been living?
As a result of the progress we had made even by 2005 you cannot fill a telephone box with Ulster Unionist MPs.
Whilst we have made enormous progress we will not be settling for second best. We need delivery. As our manifesto says,
"For us it is about delivery and not deadlines. This strategy has already delivered results and will do so again. The restoration of devolution will not be delayed because of the DUP. It will only be delayed if republicans or the government do not deliver on their commitments and obligations."
It comes as no surprise that the Ulster Unionist Party has already signed up to the 26th March and lost any negotiating leverage that it may have had.
We will not be so foolish. On policing Sinn Fein still have some distance to travel.
There can be no distinction between civic and political policing; there can be no place for elected representatives to say they would not report paramilitary activity by dissident republicans, there can be no acceptance of people in Government who would not report the discovery of guns.
It is clear that the Ulster Unionist Party will accept all this but we will not.
But the real contest at this election is not with the Ulster Unionist Party but with Sinn Fein. Even the UUP does not pretend that it can emerge from this election as the largest party in Northern Ireland.
This is a vital election for unionists to turn out and vote.
Unionism needs the strongest possible mandate to keep the pressure on republicans.
We need the strongest possible mandate to ensure any executive has a unionist majority and we need the strongest possible mandate to ensure that there will be a unionist and not a Sinn Fein First Minister when devolution returns.
While we are taking the fight to republicans others are helping republicans by diverting the attack away from them.
Bob McCartney makes no secret of his ambition in this election; it is to ensure that Sinn Fein tops the poll and Martin McGuinness is put forward as First Minister.
I have no doubt that the unionist electorate will resoundingly reject this approach and
Only this party is making progress and delivering real progress for the unionist community.
Our aim is to build a better future for Northern Ireland.
As well as the central constitutional issue our manifesto sets out our policy priorities across a whole range of issues. If we can get the political context right these are the matters that will have an impact on people's lives.
From Education to Health and from the new Rating arrangement to water charges we have policies that can improve the lives of people in Northern Ireland. At every level of Government we have proved that we are the party that can make a difference.
I urge all unionists to read this manifesto and to turn out and vote DUP on March 7th.
The can do so rest assured that, the DUP is getting it right."
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