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Speech by Nigel Dodds at the Twelfth of July Celebrations, Brougshane, County Antrim (12 July 2006)



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Text: Nigel Dodds ... Page Compiled: Brendan Lynn

Speech by Nigel Dodds, then Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP for North Belfast, at the Twelfth of July Celebrations, Brougshane, County Antrim (12 July 2006).

 

"We give thanks to Almighty God for the liberty to meet and to freely assemble together to commemorate in our traditional way the great blessings bestowed upon this nation through the Glorious Revolution settlement and the victory of William, Prince of Orange, at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Todayís freedoms have been hard won through the blood and sacrifice of our forefathers. On this the 90th anniversary of the commencement of the battle of the Somme in 1916 we in Ulster have more cause than most to reflect on the terrible price which has been paid for todayís freedoms. And it is because of that cost - paid in blood over succeeding decades in theatres of war all over the world as well as on our own soil here - that we today gathered on this the 316th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne re-dedicate ourselves as Orange Brethren and true Protestants to the protection and defence of the cause of civil and religious liberty for all. True liberty of course is not just a civil or temporal liberty. True liberty is the liberty of the soul brought about through the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And as an Institution set for the defence and promotion of true religion we affirm again our belief in the Bible and its message of personal salvation through Christ and Christ alone. This Institution and the cause for which it stands have ever been subject to the attacks and assaults, both verbal and physical, of our enemies. Unable to persuade by force of argument or to prevail through the power of democracy they have resorted time and again to the threat and use of violent aggression.

Over the years the IRA and its fellow travellers have brought havoc and destruction on our towns and cities. But the IRA never succeeded in defeating the Ulster people and they never will. Their campaign of violence and terror should never be glorified as some kind of conflict akin to the warfare in which gallant men and women of all traditions were engaged in through two world wars and in conflicts since. The terrorists should never be given the status of the armed forces of the Crown. There is no equivalence between the two.

On the one hand men and women lawfully donned the uniform of King, Queen and country to uphold freedom and liberty. On the other, cowardly assassins sneaked and skulked their way through hedges and ditches to shoot or bomb the innocent. Nowadays republicanism would seek to rewrite history - to paint a sanitized heroic picture in order to obscure the sordid truth of their filthy deeds of evil. By their revisionism they attempt to pervert history - whether itís by denying the truth or inventing lies. The conduct of the IRA over the Jean McConville case in seeking to justify cold blooded murder even after 30 years illustrates the foul depths to which the republican leadership of Adams and McGuinness are prepared to sink. Caught in a web of lies and deceit they revert to what they do best. Blame everyone else and wash their hands of responsibility. But they will not be allowed to escape (as they were previously) from the absolute requirement to give up all forms of criminality, paramilitarism and violence. On that there must be no fudge, no ambiguity, and no compromise. We have seen where fudge, ambiguity and compromise brought us before. Sinn Fein/IRA in government with no decommissioning, no abandonment of criminality and no commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic methods of operation.

Those days have now gone. Under strong united unionist leadership republicans are being forced slowly but surely to realize that they must change completely, that they must give up their paramilitary and terrorist role, and that they must move forward and join the rest of us as democrats depending solely on the ballot not the bullet. We are serious about making progress towards restoring local accountability into decision making for Northern Ireland. But let it be clearly understood that devolution can only happen and should only happen on the right terms. It must be devolution that works in the interests of unionists as well as nationalists. It must be devolution which is not a vehicle to weaken or undermine the Union. And it must be a form of devolution which is not corrupted by having at its heart those still tied to terrorism or criminality. So while unionism is clear on where it is going, others cling to the failed and flawed policies of the past. Others are still intent on holding up progress towards stable and sensible structures of devolved government. We have a Secretary of State who stymies and blocks meetings of the Assembly but does nothing about the continuing boycott of that Assembly by Sinn Fein. His double standards are glaring. He threatens financial sanctions here but pours money into the coffers of Sinn Fein at Westminster which they boycott. He puts deadlines and pressures to try to force unionists into government with Sinn Fein, regardless of their state of readiness, yet puts no deadlines or pressures on Sinn Fein to support the police.

The SDLP and others in the failed pro-Agreement camp still cling to every dot and comma of their out-dated Belfast Agreement. They are ready today to open the door to Sinn Fein even without the completion of the necessary steps the republicans must take. But they will learn that change is coming. Only an agreement to which unionists give their consent will stand the test of time and democracy.

In the Irish Republic politicians of all hues refuse to countenance any Sinn Feiner in government yet they demand we in Ulster must do so. Our message today is that we will not be treated in any second class way. We are first class citizens of the United Kingdom and we will not be settling for any form of government which others will not accept for themselves. And then there is IRA/Sinn Fein. They have to face up to reality. They have to face the fact that they are dealing with unionists who will not be brow beaten, bribed or bullied into any arrangements which are not in the best interests of our people. A deadline - arbitrary in nature - has been set for a decision on devolution.

For true unionists the test is not some date plucked out of the air by a discredited government.

Neither is the test one of financial advantage. We will not be guided in the slightest degree by any monetary consideration. That may be the sort of thing that is most important to new Labour Ministers but we will never sully the memory of those who paid the supreme sacrifice by putting petty issues of pounds and pence ahead of principle and the people. The only test is whether republicans have measured up to the test of commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic methods. Will they have done it by 24 November? It looks to many as if Sinn Fein and the IRA are not up to it and will refuse to take the necessary steps. At present we have a republican movement which wants to hold onto criminality and illegality (along with the proceeds of the Northern Bank). The recent Westminster Northern Ireland Select Committee report illustrates the lengths the republicans have yet to travel. That report totally vindicates the stance those of us have taken regarding Sinn Feinís unfitness for government. There must be zero tolerance of criminality, zero tolerance of paramilitarism, zero tolerance of terrorism. All those in government must give their full unequivocal support to the forces of law and order and urge their supporters to do so also, including giving information to the police. To go down any other route is to court disaster. It is to repeat the mistakes of the past. Remember how previously unionists under David Trimble accepted republicans into government on three separate occasions without the necessary acts of completion?

We were told that they would gradually leave behind their paramilitary and criminal baggage. The reality was very different. Once in they carried on with their criminality and paramilitarism. Government kept crashing down and crisis followed crisis. No one will thank us if all we deliver is a return to that kind of failure. The lesson of this entire sorry process is that concessions and appeasement to republicanism do not work. Only by applying pressure to republicanism, and making them deliver, works.

We have pushed the republicans much further down the line than has ever previously been the case. But the job is not complete and we will not be giving up until that job is done. Nor will we accept anything less than full equality and parity for our heritage and culture. The institutionalized discrimination against the unionist and Orange tradition must end. Equality of funding and resources for our Ulster Scots culture is a prerequisite in a society where the identity of the majority population is not adequately or sufficiently recognized and acknowledged. The ongoing attacks on Orange parades and halls demonstrate a fascist intolerance and bigotry which show the true nature of republicanism to the world. There can be no substantial progress towards the shared future which government claims to want unless our main roads and highways are likewise shared. The days of republican vetoes over traditional processions on our main roads upheld and backed by an unaccountable parades Commission must be ended.

Today we stand more united, stronger and more determined than we have been for many years. Let us go forth from this place today resolving by all peaceful and democratic means at our disposal to maintain and defend our glorious heritage. In this year of the 90th anniversary of the Somme our mission must be to honour our forefathers with a renewed commitment to freedom, liberty and democracy. And in this year of Her Majestyís 80th birthday our message is one of resolute loyalty, fidelity and faithfulness.

No Surrender and God save the Queen."

 


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