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Speech by Ian Paisley to DUP Annual Conference, 1984

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Text: Ian Paisley ... Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh

Text of a speech by Ian Paisley, then Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to the DUP's Annual Conference, in 1984.


"A sense of history always gives a sense of destiny. It is most fitting therefore that I commence my speech to this conference with a word, a reminder, about our origins. The founders of our party were to the fore at the commencement of the present Ulster crisis warning the people of Ulster about what really was happening. It was our endeavour to help forward the establishment of a united Unionist front. This has always been our aim, irrespective of whether it was in the best interest of our party or not.

The establishment of a united Unionist front. This has always been our aim, irrespective of whether it was in the best interest of our party or not. Unfortunately the official Unionists only co-operated in Unionist unity when their electoral fortunes waned but when the chestnuts had been pulled out of the fire for them they reverted quickly back to their Sinn Fein policy “we ourselves alone”.

Let me put it firmly on the record that the first Unionist unity Forum, the Unionist alliance, came into being as a result of the efforts of the founders of the Democratic Unionist party. Let me also remind you that the united Ulster Unionist council was born in my room in Stormont. in true succession to Carson Unionism the party itself was a coalition of Unionists interests with a coming together of the four members of the Stormont Parliament, Mr Desmond Boal, M.P. for Shankill, an official Unionist, Mr Johnny McQuade, M.P. for Woodvale, an official Unionist, the rev. William Beattie, M.P., for South Antrim and myself the M.P. for O’Neil’s old seat - Bannside - both of us at that time being protestant Unionists. Others who pledged with uplifted hand to join us fell by the way-side.

The Democratic Unionist Party was born in the throws of the agonies of Ulster. Its formation was actually announced by me on the Shankill Road after an I.R.A. bombing and murder attack. Its principles were and are simple.

One, to uphold and maintain the Constitution of Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom as at present constituted. Two, to impose and maintain the rule of law in all areas of Northern Ireland so that all citizens are not only equal under the law but are equally subject to it. Three, to devise and urge a policy of social betterment and equal opportunity for all sections of the community. In the economic, education and social welfare spheres. The Democratic Unionist Party is not an ordinary staid political party but rather a political crusade to achieve and maintain these vitally important objectives. It is not and must not become, because of its voting strength, an establishment party with its members in office more and more practising a conforming role.

The other Unionist party would like us to be like them, a party, whose leadership and membership excel in the mediocre and whose representatives will hold on to office and salary at the expense of political conviction integrity and honour.

They boast that their respectability has gained Ulster a place and made us friends throughout the world. Not so, their respectability dug Stormont's grave, betrayed the Carson, Craigavon tradition, sold out the 'b' specials, disarmed the police, banned the Loyalist orders from parading, handed Stormont over to Republican squatters in the power-sharing executive and signed Ulster’s Munich betrayal paper - the Sunningdale Agreement.

When one views some of these political "has beens" surfacing again in the official Unionist party one wonders what the end of the story is going to be.

The way of conformity to the deadening routine of establishment politics is not for us. The chain of office, the seat of administration power and the trappings of the prestige of being elected representatives have left a deadening hand on many who were once strong and true Loyalists and Unionist representatives. We must guard against this contagious and paralysing plague.

As Ulster faces her greatest challenge our party has surely come to the kingdom for such a time as this. This challenge however is our opportunity, the opportunity to give determined, resolute, imaginative and courageous leadership to our people and by so doing save not only ourselves but our beloved province for further generations.

The I.R.A./Sinn Fein murder plot

Mr John Taylor speaking recently in Bangor informed his audience that Sinn Fein was no threat and in a press release a few days ago talked about our battle with Sinn Fein as a sham fight. Let me in the name of the Ulster Protestants inform Mr Taylor that the widows of Ulster are not sham widows that the orphans of Ulster are not sham orphans that the graves of Ulster stalwarts are not sham graves. our security forces are not fighting a sham enemy, the I.R.A. bombs are not sham bombs, the I.R.A. bullets are not sham bullets, the tears of Ulster’s bereaved are not sham tears. Mr Taylor would not have been a member of the European assembly if he had not received thousands of my transfer votes yet in the interests not of Ulster, not even of the party to which he belongs but in the interests of one John David Taylor he is prepared to minimise the greatest threat to our constitutional position - the rapid and increasing rise of Sinn Fein’s political strength at the polls. Mr Taylor in forwarding his own interest even stoops so low as to denounce as a gimmick those who display the Union Jack and nail their loyalty and political creed to the post in this simple but resolute message "Ulster is British". In this time of crisis and challenge we will leave Mr Taylor to his vain attempt to turn Loyalist against Loyalist and Unionist against Unionist. we will leave him to wander aimlessly in that dreadful political habitat of his own making his advocacy of a nine county independent Ulster outside the U.K., his betrayal of the 'B-Specials', his disarming of the R.U.C., his banning of Loyalist parades aid his winning of the wooden spoon for taking 8 months to make his maiden speech in the house of commons and to be so unknown there as to have the speaker gall him twice by the name of Mr John Hume. We will leave him in the company of Sinn Fein as a fellow Stormont boycotter.

One thing I ask of Mr Taylor that he now declares whether he wants any of my transfer votes at this election. It is his duty to make his position absolutely clear on that issue. The I.R.A. Sinn Fein candidate Danny Morrison must be totally humiliated at the election on the 14th of June. The only way that this can be done is for a massive protestant and Unionist vote to be recorded in my favour. That will increase the number of votes required to make the quota and as a result the Sinn Fein/I.R.A. candidate can be smashed and the election fortunes of Sinn Fein receive a solid and effective set-back. The vote that will be scrutinised throughout the world at this election will not be the votes cast for John David Taylor but the vote cast in favour of Ian Paisley. For that vote will give to the world in plain unmistakable language the courageous and resolute determination of the Ulster people not to give in to the I.R.A. campaign of murder, not to bow the knee to the ultimatum from the Dublin Forum and never to surrender their place completely outside the Irish Republic and firmly inside this United Kingdom.

It is for Ulster’s sake and not for any personal desire of mine that I am asking for this massive vote on the 14th of June. Anyone who studies the previous election figures for Europe will know that I am the only Unionist candidate in the field that can achieve this and I am asking the people of Ulster at this time to give me their number one preference vote. The reason being that by so doing Sinn Fein can be smashed at the polls. remember this that if there is not this humiliation of Sinn Fein at the polls then a weak-kneed spineless British administration surrounded in Parliament by many who hate and detest Ulster (and let us spell it out plainly) will seek to bolster up what they call constitutional nationalism at the expense of a Unionist majority in Northern Ireland. As we expect and demand Mr prior to defeat the I.R.A. terrorists so we must defeat Sinn Fein at the polls.

The official Unionist leadership is on record during the past few days of talking about going soft against the S.D.L.P. the Godfather of the Forum report. I must say that this party which I lead will never go soft against any form of Republicanism. Republicanism is anathema to us and we will fight it at the polls continually and use the democratic process for its defeat and overthrow. Could I also make a comment upon this misnomer that has now been freely bandied about by political commentators and politicians "constitutional nationalists"? A person who is a constitutionalist will give their support to the security forces of the legitimate state under which they live. Those nationalists who claim to be constitutional nationalists do not give their support to the security forces of our province and that includes the S.D.L.P. in fact the most blatant demonstration of black-mail in the whole Irish Forum report, is found in paragraph 4.5. Let me read it to you:

"Nationalists for the most part do not identify with the police and the security forces. It is clear that the police will not be accepted... until there is a change in the political context in which they have to operate..."

So it is clear that those who claim to be constitutional nationalists are issuing this blackmailing threat to the British government and to the Ulster Loyalist and Unionist people. If you don’t agree to a united Ireland then our people will not accept the legitimate security forces operating in the province.

It is self evident now that the Irish Forum rides on the back of I.R.A. terror if there had been no I.R.A. terrorism there would be no Irish Forum. So the Irish Forum has a vested interest in I.R.A. terrorism and is using it now in an attempt to blackmail the British administration. hence everyone of us must dedicate ourselves in the coming weeks of this election to a great crusade, everyone of us must be a political activist, everyone of us must leave no stone unturned to smash the I.R.A. and to give the answer to the world that Ulster will not consent to an annexation of her territory to be ruled by Dublin, under the heel of Dublin rule we will never ever bow our necks.

The Irish Forum

Let me turn for a moment to the report of the New Ireland Forum there is nothing new about the Ireland envisages. Instead of being a way forward it is a way back, in fact the foreign minister as a fine Gail member of the Dail talks about a return to civil war so of course he is looking backward and not forward. The Forum's report is as green as green as green as Mr Haughey can make it. One thing and one thing only is the solution to the Irish problem in their findings and that is a unitary state. Northern Ireland forced against its will outside the United Kingdom and forced against its will into an all-Ireland Republic. In the coming months a world wide propaganda campaign will be carried out. Its aim is to crucify Ulster on this S.D.L.P. cross of the Dublin Forum and then to bury us in the tomb of an Irish Republic. This S.D.L.P. crown of thorns, no man shall press on Ulster’s brow and the Irish Republic is a tomb in which we refuse to be buried. These grapes from the thorns of Haughey we will not eat and these figs from the thistles of Fitzgerald we will not partake of.

The report which on the one hand states that Irish unity can only be brought about on a freely negotiated democratic basis and then faces up to the fact that that consent does not exist in Northern Ireland, yet demands that “the British government should create the frame-work and atmosphere within which such negotiation should take place”, is in reality a document of duplicity, falsehood and hypocrisy and no right thinking Democrat could treat it seriously. Of course we know that it has no respect for the consent of the Ulster people for at the heart of this document lies the trust that the consent of the Ulster people must be destroyed and that their right to remain outside a united Ireland must be overthrown.

I challenge Mr Hume at the coming election to secure for his proposals the consent that they need and if he does not obtain that consent and he knows that he will not obtain that consent then let them cease from this campaign that can bring no jobs, no success, no alleviation to Ulster woes and let him turn to constructive politics by coming to the assembly and debating, not in a foreign capital, the future of the Northern Ireland people, with the other elected representatives of the Ulster people. It is our duty to seek ways for their future by having meaningful discussions and debate with the other elected representatives of the Northern Ireland people. It is the Unionist people only who have faced up to the reality of the situation. They realise that they cannot return to the old Stormont form of government with its senate and its house of commons and having faced up to that they brought in the convention report while rightly rejecting power sharing. A report which offered to minority parties a role unparalleled in any democratic state throughout the whole of civilisation by turning their minority into an equality with the majority, on the committees of a Northern Ireland Parliament and guaranteeing the minority certain chairmanships of those committees. That generous offer was spurned but the Unionist people are still prepared in the interests of Ulster, its stability, its future and the well being of all its people, Roman Catholic and protestant alike to give that special position within the Parliamentary frame-work to the minority.

I ask the S.D.L.P. to carefully consider. Surely here is a ground for discussion a proposal for debate and a place for some forward movement. there is moreover a way whereby without any executive, legislative power could be devolved to the Northern Ireland assembly so that we could have a real say in making the laws that govern our province, what is more there are many levels of administrative matters that effect the everyday life of the people of Northern Ireland, matters concerning agriculture, the environment, education, health and social services that could be administered in Northern Ireland by Northern Ireland’s elected representatives. my party would welcome a bill of rights guaranteeing the rights of every citizen in Northern Ireland whether they belong to the minority or to the majority or whether they belong to a minority within the majority community, or a minority within the minority, because the very ethos of Protestantism is civil and religious liberty for all men.

How fortunate for us at this time that we have an elected representative body in Northern Ireland that has statutory powers under the Westminster Parliament to put up proposals for the future good government and administration of our province.

Let every elected representative who believes in the democratic process and pays lip allegiance to that process get into the assembly. Let there be no longer a boycott of this very important body. A body that can make such representations and has the power under statute so to do. the solution to Northern Ireland’s problem lies within itself and surely as we see some hopeful signs in the economy of this province and surely as we face the difficult days that lie ahead every elected representative has a solid duty and responsibility to the electorate to put forward as best as they can efforts to get us out of the stalemate and carry us forward to better days. I myself, and my constituency work shows it across this province, want to see the best possible deal for every citizen of Northern Ireland whether he be protestant or Roman Catholic. I care not where he may hang his hat on Sunday I care that every citizen may have a future. A future in a democracy where as the old prophet described it every man can sit down under the fig tree without fear or threat to enjoy what is rightfully his.

In the economic field let me say that the Democratic Unionist Party will not take from the mouth of labour the bread it has so strenuously earned. We will see to it that those that labour will get a just reward for their labours. I believe that the lowest rate of taxation should be on the necessities of life and that the highest rate of taxation should be on the luxuries of life and there is a standard beneath which we should not permit any of the citizens of this country to fall.

I am convinced that we should not at this time follow the Whitehall overlords I believe that Ulster should lead. We should be taking the lead at this time leading instead of following Whitehall. Authority, political authority must be derived from the people. Only the elected representatives of Northern Ireland have that authority from the people of Northern Ireland. We alone are answerable to the people of Northern Ireland. Therefore the Westminster overlords must recognise the authority that is vested in us. It is not for them to try by any means fair or foul to undermine the authority vested in the public representatives of the Northern Ireland people. they should be seeking to strengthen those who have that authority vested in them and that is why James Prior and Margaret Thatcher should be at this time encouraging those who are seeking for a solution firmly within the U.K. let me say to them that if they try in any way to undermine the expressed democratic will of the vast majority of Ulster people including many roman Catholic people who have voted for the Union. Then their actions will not be tolerated in this province, they have a responsibility and their responsibility is to abide by the will, the democratically expressed will of the Northern Ireland people. Let the Dublin leaders remember this that there will not be and cannot be any surrender as far as Ulster is concerned and let them also know that it is not Jim Prior that they will have to deal with in the final analysis but the tough resolute determined protestants of Ulster. Yes and after all the' loud professions of honesty and goodwill and a desire to understand the convictions of the Ulster protestants let them take the two steps necessary to have a proper neighbourly relationship between the two parts of this island.

Let them delete from their Constitution their claim over this territory and their claim to make laws for this territory. Let them also sign the convention for the prevention of terrorism as has been enacted by the council of Europe in which both they and we are members, so that no part of Ireland will give a safe hiding place to anyone who has put his hand to deeds of blood and violence anywhere in this island.

In taking those two steps the Republic can demonstrate in a tangible manner that they do want to live in neighbouring relations with the North. let the people of the South of Ireland develop as they have their will not be hindered by us in the North, but let us develop the way we want to develop so that both parts of Ireland adhering to the democratic process will secure for all the people who reside in their respected territory the prosperity and the future that we all want to have.

I have one final word. Let all men know North and South that truth is omnipotent and will finally triumph no matter how hard the way, truth will have to take to climb the hill, no matter what days of darkness and days of disappointment it may have to face, yet at the end truth will stand triumphant on the summit of every hill of difficulty.

I am confident that those who are dedicated to truth, those who are dedicated to those principles that are written into the Constitution of this party to maintain the rule of law in all areas so that all citizens are not only equal under the law but are equally subject to it and to devise and urge a policy of social betterment and opportunity for all sections of the community in the economic, educational and social welfare spheres I believe that those who hold those principles of truth will finally and fully be victorious. May God speed that day so that the people of this war torn province who have endured so much agony so much bloodshed so much hardship and so much misrepresentation will once again walk proudly in the paths of prosperity and in the ways of peace."


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