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Speech to DUP Annual Conference by Party Leader Ian Paisley, 24 November 2001

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Edited version of the speech by the Rev Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to the Party's annual conference in Newcastle, County Down, 24 November 2001.

"In this our thirtieth year we meet at a time when Ulster's democratic freedoms have never been more under threat. This party has and continues to be the single greatest obstacle to thwarting the plan of Ulster's enemies to take us through the gates and into a United Ireland. That is why we, in the DUP have been vilified, harried and attacked over the past thirty years.

The past thirty years have taken their toll on the Ulster people. Who would have believed that at the start of the twenty-first century the Provisional IRA, armed by the Dublin Government in the early '70s, would be sitting in the heart of the Government of Northern Ireland?

Who would have believed that the Dublin Government would roll across the Border in a fleet of black Mercedes cars into Northern Ireland dictating policy to the people of Ulster through the North-South Ministerial Council? Sadly, each and every sell-out initiative has revealed that there are those so-called unionists who are prepared to slither and slide down the road of deceit and betrayal.

Today they are found grouped together in the David Trimble-led Unionist Party. They are defeatists, not prepared to stand and fight, but to settle for any terms offered to them by Dublin and the pan-nationalist front.

That is why Ulster is in the state it is today, that is why this party must prepare for the task ahead. Our unprecedented victories this year are but a start on the long road to rescuing Ulster from the treachery of Trimble and negotiating a better future for the people of Northern Ireland.

Now it's a case of fellow unionists ignored and derided and IRA/ Sinn Féin praised and clapped. It's Mark Durkan in, soon to be followed by Martin McGuinness, and Peter Weir and Pauline Armitage out.

It would take a speech itself to detail how many occasions the Official Unionist Party has surrendered on the issue of decommissioning. We will all remember the final surrender of the Official Unionists when in November 1999 they welcomed murderers and thugs into the heart of our government. David Trimble himself handed over the future of Ulster to a man as vile as Martin McGuinness.

If Trimble is so confident that this process is paying for unionists let's have an election. Let's ask the people and let them decide - this party has no fear of the ballot box.

We have a responsibility as never before to lead the unionist people and to defend their interests in a way which demonstrates our determination to defend Ulster and the Union.

Like Carson of old we must be careful upon whom we trust.

The mainland parties are double-dealers, speaking with forked tongues, behaving with neither honour nor dignity.

The record of this British government is one of hypocrisy - Ulster people do not believe Blair - even Trimble now realises the folly of relying on the Prime Minister and his pieces of paper. We had the graffiti on the walls, the pledges. We were told to vote for peace - yet where is the peace today? Instead we have government run by appeasers and Provos, we have criminality out of control and a police force that is weak and demoralised.

Aiding and abetting Mr Trimble in this trickery is of course that reprehensible little Secretary of State, John Reid. Now he is crying that he is a unionist, that he doesn't want to see unionists out in the cold.

Ladies and gentlemen, we must prepare ourselves for the major battles ahead. Decommissioning remains unresolved. Bertie Ahern wants to take a low-key approach to this issue. He wants IRA in government here, yet he won't have them in his Government. He, along with Trimble, wants to bury the issue. This party will not allow decommissioning to be forgotten. We are not in the business of handing over Ulster's future to a Canadian general who is not accountable to the people of Northern Ireland, a man who has treated the people with contempt.

Today, as we celebrate our anniversary, we look back to past battles and to past glories.

We must go forth and spread the message in every village, town and city that only by supporting this party can we halt the slide and end the concession-granting process.

By God's help and grace we cannot, we will not fail."

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