Extracts from Speech by Ian Paisley at the North Antrim DUP Association annual dinner, Ballymena, 27 November 2004
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Extracts from Speech by Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), at the North Antrim DUP Association annual dinner, Saturday 27 November 2004
"Last year when I announced I would not be returning to Europe some hoped that I was making clear an intention to retire. That of course is not so.
When I was later in hospital, others, not my friends, hoped I would not be back to do the job I promised to do. I have come back. Paisley is not going away and he has no intention of going away.
I said then that the place I had to be was here in Ulster and London working on this vital matter. I could not be distracted by other important but not crucial matters. I have kept that promise and will keep it.
I believe I have been faithful to that promise and intend to continue to deliver on that commitment to lead our beloved province to better, brighter days.
That trust will never be taken for granted. I will work to keep it and expand it and so will my party.
This time last year my strategy of renegotiating a fair deal for Ulster was laughed at by our enemies. Our opponents told us that the Agreement could not be renegotiated.
We were told that we could not directly negotiate with the Government. Well we have. What is more we have proved that the agreement can, will and must be changed."
"I told him [Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister] that Sinn Fein/IRA’s self-confessed commander Martin McGuinness would not dictate to me or to the Ulster people, I told him that I am too old to be bluffed and too honourable to be bought on these crucial matters.
On the vital matter of decommissioning of the IRA’s illegal arms I said at Leeds Castle ‘seeing is believing’.
This is the vital matter. Unionists will not settle for another disingenuous and valueless decommissioning event. They are going to see before they believe. Seeing is believing.
Decommissioning must be credible and it must build the confidence of the Unionist people. Sinn Fein’s leader Gerry Adams says we want to humiliate the IRA. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think it’s a very noble thing.
The IRA needs to be humiliated. And they need to wear their sackcloth and ashes, not in a backroom but openly. And we have no apology to make for the stand we are taking.
I say look at the heartache the IRA has brought to countless homes across this province. The pride of Republicans cannot be allowed to prevent progress and it is clear to me that Sinn Fein/IRA are scared of democracy because their republican ideology will be seen to be bankrupt stock.
I spoke yesterday with George W. Bush, the President of the United States, and told him that I would be holding his friend Tony Blair to his word. The President did not disagree.
Isn't it remarkable what a difference a year makes. Last year the President was told by his friend Tony Blair not to speak to that man Paisley. This year the President telephones me to my home."
"No, I've been around too long to see others taken in by Bill Clinton’s calls. The President too knows of my resolve to do what is right for Ulster.
The crucial matter for me is that we must know that the IRA has ceased to exist as a terrorist organisation. The guns have got to go and they have to be destroyed.
We must know that there is no way that they can go back to the road they have travelled that has caused us so much pain and heartache.
The end of the IRA as we know it, the destruction of their weapons and the end of their criminal Mafia style empire must take place, must be transparent and must be conclusive.
I will hold the Prime Minister to his commitments. I have put this in writing to him and in all of our negotiations with him I have insisted that he address this matter.
I am not interested in what is his best guess of what he thinks he can or cannot get from the IRA/Sinn Fein I am only interested in what he does and what he gets!"
"We are holding to those pledges. We said then that we wanted a fair deal. That we required a new agreement that would be truly accountable to the people.
Nationalists and pro-agreement lovers have been reluctant to accept that the Agreement had faults. It is now dear to all that it does have faults and that those fundamental matters of accountability lie at the heart of the problems this country has faced.
I believe we can achieve a fair deal that addresses these matters. I laugh when I hear David Trimble, the failed leader of Unionism declare on the one hand that the DUP cannot change the agreement and then he says that agreements have come about because of his, so-called lifting.
Mr Trimble, whose unionist muscles have wasted away, knows more about giving than he does about lifting! He would, if he had his way, give everything to our traditional enemies. He sat a whole Sunday in a couch with Gerry Adams. Think about it!
I am willing to consider urgently the right deal at any time. I would like to be in a position to say yes to a fair deal and I hope I will be able to say that, but have the resolve and integrity to say no to another bad deal for the Ulster people.
Tony Blair knows of that resolve, as does Bertie Ahern. Never before since the days of Carson and Craigavon have the enemies and opponents of traditional Unionism met the steely resolve of a real Ulsterman.
Would anyone dare to challenge my credentials on these matters - I think not!
Sinn Fein/IRA knows what’s in Ian Paisley, they know what’s in the DUP. Sinn Fein will have to step up to the mark instead of dodging the real question. They cannot have it both ways, of a place in government and a place in terrorism and criminality.
There must be no way back for Sinn Fein. They must realise that a fair deal means that they cannot serve two masters.
We have demanded from the government a default that will not allow a lying Sinn Fein to have a deal one day, break it the next day and be back at the negotiating table the day after. That is not credible. If they break the agreement they are out forever.
Men and women of North Antrim, the political home of Ian Paisley, you know that I am not in the business of sellouts and surrenders.
When I first received your trust 34 years ago to be the voice of this great constituency you gave me the charge to defend the Union, protect Ulster, speak out for our people and lead us all to better days. I have put my hand to that task and you put your faith in me many years ago.
There will be no sell out or surrender as far as the Democratic Unionist Party is concerned. May I not fail this Province that I love!"
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