Extracts of a Speech by Ian Paisley to DUP Annual Conference, 2001
[Key_Events] [Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]
PEACE: [Menu] [Summary] [Reading] [Background] [Chronology_1] [Chronology_2] [Chronology_3] [Article] [Agreement] [Sources]
Text of extracts of a speech by Ian Paisley, then Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to the DUP's Annual Conference, 2001.
"I want to take this opportunity to heartily welcome you to our Conference today. 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. We have a proud history. It was the Ulster Constitutional Defence Committee and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers who first raised the standard against O'Neill's treachery.
The Protestant Unionist Party grew out of those bodies and in Council elections defeated Official Unionists who were prepared to surrender to Dublin.
The Protestant Unionist Party, strengthened by the election of Rev William Beattie (South Antrim) and myself (Bannside) — O'Neills's old seat — to Stormont, took steps to engage in getting the Unionist family together.
Along with Captain L.P.S. Orr, I helped to convene the first Unionist Unity meeting in my room at Stormont. Under pressure Captain Orr capitulated to Glengall St and pulled out.
Then, along with Mr Desmond Boal MP, I helped to form the Unionist Alliance. This platform for the Unionist family brought together the loyal orders and the Unionist parties and groupings. Mr Boal was Chairman.
As the Province slipped into utter disarray, at a meeting in the Grand Central Hotel, Belfast, this group met and decided to come together in a new Unionist party, uniting all the various strands of Unionism, the Official Unionists — Rev Martin Smyth, Mr Harry West MP, Bill Craig MP, Captain Ardill, the Protestant Unionists, Independent Unionists and the associated loyal bodies in support. The vote was overwhelming with only two dissidents. The Official Unionist MP's mentioned above failed to keep the commitment. "
That night there was a pub bomb on the Shankill Road, Belfast. Mr Boal and myself were summoned to attend. The Shankill was seething with thousands of people and Mr Boal rightly recognised that leadership must be given, told me that I should right away announce the birth of a new Unionist party. Realising that only such an announcement would create hope in the hearts of those so sorely stricken and so blatantly betrayed, I announced what had happened at the Hotel that night. In such travail the new Unionist party was born — later to be christened the Ulster Democratic Unionist Party. Desmond Boal MP, Johnny McQuade MP, Rev William Beattie MP and myself, along with Senator Charles McCullough were the Stormont representatives of the new party.
So the baby conceived in the Grand Central Hotel, born on the Shankill Road has grown and today is taking on the enemies of Ulster.
This thirtieth year has been historic for our party – the message is clear to friend and foe alike, the Democratic Unionist Party speaks for the majority of Unionists in the Province, we are the party the people trust, to lead, guide and act as the guardians of traditional Unionist principles. 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 70's, 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's 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.
Let us examine the treachery of the Ulster Unionist Party. How the attitude of that Party has undergone major surgery. Now it's a case of fellow unionists ignored and derided and IRA Sinn Fein praised and clapped. It's Mark Durkan in, soon to be followed by Martin McGuinness and Peter Weir and Pauline Armitage out. Let this Conference be in no doubt how low the Official Unionist Party has stooped in order to keep this flawed Agreement alive, and how low it will go to stay in bed with IRA/Sinn Fein.
Only last Saturday, the failed Chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party, Mr James Cooper claimed that his Party had been honest with the people of Northern Ireland. What nonsense. His party told the people of this Province at the time of the Referendum that prisoners would not be released until violence was given up for good. They told us Cross Border bodies would be accountable to the Assembly. They told us the RUC had been saved, that Unionists would have a veto in the Assembly for key decisions. They also told the people they would not sit in Government with IRA/Sinn Fein until decommissioning was complete AND Paramilitary organisations had stood their units down. All of this turned out to be a litany of broken promises.
The Ulster Unionist decommissioning policy has been an utter failure for the people of Northern Ireland. Now Trimble claims he has delivered decommissioning in an attempt to hide his total failure as a negotiator and to remove the spotlight from the ever-growing list of concessions to Nationalists and Republicans.
He claims that the process is starting to `pay dividends'. Trimble has surrendered everything his own party ever stood for in order to deliver what – a stunt of smoke and mirrors from murdering evil thugs.
It would take a speech itself to detail how many occasions the Official Unionist Party has surrendered on the issue of decommissioning. Back in 1994 the Unionists said that the IRA would have to totally disarm before they could enter political talks.
Then in 1995 they reduced that requirement to the point where the Provo's needed only to decommission some weapons in order to enter political talks.
Trimble then moved the goalposts yet again in 1996 as part of Mitchell's dirty little deal. Now the IRA was only required to decommission alongside the political process.
By the time of the signing of the iniquitous Agreement Trimble had bought into the idea that all participants in the process were to use any influence they may have to achieve the decommissioning of all paramilitary arms within TWO years.
Trimble claimed he would not sit in the Executive in the absence of a creditable and verifiable beginning to the decommissioning of IRA weapons. 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.
Just as his track record suggests David Trimble is the chief sell-out agent, and a master of deception. He has however learned new skills in recent times, he can dump his policy in a record time of seven days, he can claim to be a Unionist with a straight face, while leading a party comprising some members who openly declare their willingness to join a United Ireland. I refer of course to his alleged re-election as First Minister. At the start of the week he told us his re-election on the back of Women's Coalition votes would not be credible but by the end of the week was grovelling around in the mud begging the party of cross dressers to support his re-election.
Today of course Trimble is a minority Unionist leader in the Assembly – he no longer enjoys the support of a majority of elected Unionists in the chamber. His was the only act of dishonour assuming the job of First Minister knowing full well the only group supporting him was a collection of the enemies of Ulster and a bunch of political half-wits. Trimble told the public a week ago in his newspaper article that `we tell Unionist people the truth' – why then was he prepared to jump to the tune of IRA Sinn Fein and cheat against the wishes of the majority of Unionists when he previously claimed that Unionists would have a veto in the Assembly.
The answer is clear – the Trimble led Unionists in conjunction with the British Government are running scared of the ballot box. 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.
Of course Trimble knows he and his ‘team’ are in no position to take to the elections field. Perhaps he might want to take some coaching advice – he could start by putting Lady Hermon on the transfer list.
Any Unionist that would dare to suggest that IRA/Sinn Fein could come to share tea and buns at a Unionist meeting is not worthy of calling themselves a Unionist. What a slap in teeth to the orphans and the widows of this country, what a slap in the teeth to those who mourn today. These IRA leaders are the same men who have consistently refused to say sorry instead aligning themselves with terrorism and bloodletting.
The record of the Official Unionist Party is one of pledge breaking and dishonour. They have, under the leadership of Trimble abandoned every traditional Unionist principle they ever held. Today, more than ever it is the Democratic Unionist Party that is the custodian of traditional Unionist values. It is the sound political judgement and leadership provided by this Party that has often made the difference. Throughout our proud history the DUP has proved to be the Unionist Party that can be trusted.
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. The British government must understand that no matter how often the rules are changed, no matter how often sordid deals are concluded they will never strip us of our resolution to defend our liberties and our heritage.
We are going to defend that which is our right. With no malice against any individual we believe that all men should be equal under the law, and all men equally subject to the law. I say that Ulster's Unionist people will not be beaten. They will stand for what is their right — to decide their future as part of this United Kingdom. No amount of blackmail, murder or terrorism will bring the Ulster unionist people to their knees.
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 Provo's, we have criminality out of control and a Police force that is weak and demoralised. This is all courtesy of Mr Trimble and his sidekick Taylor. We now live in a country where the Police cannot fly the Union flag, even on a Royal visit and Official Unionist Councillors are running to placate Sinn Fein over when to fly our nation's flag.
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.
Well it’s time to put Dr Reid to the test. He has refused to meet my party. In doing so he is snubbing the majority of Unionists who registered their support for us at both the General and Local Government elections.
We need action not words from the Secretary of State. He must now treat this Party and those who voted for it with respect, he must recognise publicly that the majority of Unionist do not support the Agreement. He must recognise that any settlement will require the consent of the majority of both Unionists and Nationalists, and he must admit that renegotiation of the present arrangements is the only way forward.
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.
We met this General and when we did he told us he did not know which country the decommissioning stunt had occurred in. He told us he did not know if the IRA would meet him again or whether there would be another stunt. De Chastelain is the begging boy, sent by Trimble and the British Government, to fetch the crumbs from the IRA table. The Ulster people will not tolerate this – they have not been fooled by this charade.
Today as we celebrate our Anniversary we look back to past battles and to past glories. However we must build upon our solid foundations for the struggle that is yet to come. Our job is far from done. We must leave here today to prepare to seize control of our destiny. Elections will come. Those who fear the ballot box will have to face the inevitable. Only a strong, united and effective Democratic Unionist Party can lead the Unionist people out of the wilderness. Our party is strong, youthful, and vibrant. We have the strength and courage to defend the lawabiding citizens of Ulster.
Only by taking our mandate into the Assembly can we finally complete the job in hand. It is a challenge for each one of us here today from elected representative to Party Member. 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.
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
Last modified :