DUP’s victory lap celebrates election success, belittles Opposition, criticises Dublin & sets out Brexit negotiation principles

dup16-setThe DUP conference was a victory lap for the party, celebrating success at the Assembly election. The conference programme was packed with ten and fifteen minute speeches and contributions from ministers, the party’s MEP and a light-hearted introduction to the ‘Class of 2016’ from Gavin Robinson (who has a future as a TV presenter if he ever tires of Westminster).

It’s always one of the larger conferences, and while some faces seemed to be missing this year – from Lagan Valley in particular – attendance was good, with cars diverted away from La Mon to the overflow car quite early in the morning. Younger representatives were given a profile.

The conference comes at an awkward time. There’s no election around the corner to prepare for, the specific action plans for the Programme for Government are not yet public, and the two party Executive is as stable a marriage as could be expected. The focus on Peter Martin’s report on educational underachievement shows a continued interest in that issue, but has not translated into action. An extra £14m being put into school budgets is positive but hardly headline grabbing.

dup16-air-car-freshenerDUP speakers criticised the lack of concrete Opposition policies. However the DUP-branded air fresheners in the delegate packs weren’t complemented with a fresh breeze of new party policies, barely even an articulation of old ones, other than references to the Five Point Plan. There was absolutely no mention, never mind criticism of Sinn Féin, instead choosing to attack the Opposition. No mention of Ashers, same sex marriage, or abortion – questions which the media asked in their pre-conference interviews – and no mention of parading or Twaddell.

dup16-microwave-broadbandDespite the professionalism of the conference, the sophistication of the party slips a little when the members break into song “For she’s a jolly good fellow” and other traditional refrains. For once, one of the stories of the day was not the lack of mobile phone and wifi connectivity in the out of town venue. A microwave dish on crane and some enterprise wifi access points worked flawlessly.

Gregory Campbell introduced his party leader and she entered the hall to the strains of “We Are Family”. The choice of music seemed apt with division and dissent largely undetectable amongst party members.

Arlene Foster’s speech was a little rushed and some of the early jokes failed to pick up laughs. Unlike Peter Robinson’s speeches which were peppered with regular sustained applause, today’s speech hadn’t been written in a way that would generate that kind of response. But overall it was well delivered and well received by the party faithful.

Conference, what a year it has been! We gather here today at a time when the DUP is strong, the Union is secure and Northern Ireland is moving forward with confidence. It’s a very different scenario from where we were a year ago.

Just twelve months ago Northern Ireland was a byword for political crisis and instability, devolution was in crisis, Stormont was teetering on the brink, our rivals were cocky about their electoral chances, already measuring up the curtains for their new office, and the pundits were yet again predicting the demise of the DUP.

But today it’s different; our mandate has been renewed, our opponents defeated and divided, Stormont not just stabilised but secured, and the United Kingdom has voted to take back control of its future.

dup16-arlene-fosterShe joked about predictions of a United Ireland:

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to report the Union has never been stronger. In fact, republican predictions of a united Ireland by 2016 have proven about as reliable as predictions of an electoral revival for Ulster Unionists. I know this will come as a great disappointment to Anna Lo as well as Mike Nesbitt.

These changes did not happen by accident. They happened because we were united, we worked together and we put the people of Northern Ireland first.

The leader thanked voters as well as “those who went before me and passed on the inheritance of this great party”. Peter Robinson attended and spoke at the Friday night dinner, but wasn’t present at Saturday’s conference.

The election result was important because it provided the strong foundation from which we will build a better Northern Ireland. By working together, in the most trying and difficult of circumstances, we emulated this party’s best ever Assembly election result.

And in doing so we not only extended our lead for the second successive election over Sinn Fein, but for the first time ever we are the largest unionist party in each and every one of the eighteen constituencies in Northern Ireland.

She noted the success of the party’s female candidates.

The Assembly election was also an historic day for women. I hope the men in the audience will forgive me if I say that I was absolutely delighted to see every single female candidate we put forward at the election returned at the polls. And that’s a product not of quotas or of favouritism, but of picking the right person for the job.

I was also delighted with the new, young talent that has come into our Assembly group since the last election. This augurs well for the future.

On the Fresh Start Agreement and Peter Robinson’s contribution …

It was a remarkable and historic achievement – and it was your achievement. All the progress we have made would not have been possible without last autumn’s Fresh Start Agreement and it would not have happened without the leadership of the man who guided us through this last decade, Peter Robinson. When others fled the battlefield and headed for opposition, it was Peter who held his nerve in the most challenging of circumstances to see us though to better times.

It is not just this party, but the people of Northern Ireland who owe Peter an enormous debt of gratitude and I was personally delighted that we were able to show our thanks to Peter at our dinner last night. For me, coming in the wake of such great leaders as Peter and Dr Paisley is not just an enormous challenge, it is a great honour.

I sought the leadership of this party for a single purpose – to use this office to build a better, more prosperous Northern Ireland for all, in a stronger United Kingdom. And I am conscious, not just as the first female First Minister but the youngest First or Prime Minister in Northern Ireland’s history, that a heavy burden of history lies upon my shoulders.

That is why I consider it a great blessing to have Nigel Dodds as my deputy leader. Nigel was not just the brilliant Director of Elections who helped mastermind our victory back in May; he has been a constant source of encouragement and advice …

So we have made a strong start, but it is just a start. The people of Northern Ireland expect us to deliver on our plan for a stronger Northern Ireland – and deservedly so.

My five-point plan was not just the basis for our election campaign; it will be our guiding light for the next five years. We were elected on the basis of our five-point plan and we will deliver on it. This plan was based on what the people of Northern Ireland wanted. Now, you won’t often read about these people in the newspapers or see them pontificating on the television, but they are the real heart of this country.

[The media were commented upon a lot during the day by different speakers!]

That is why I launched my Province-wide listening tour to go out and meet the people we represent. I considered it an enormous privilege to hear directly from them – and that will not be a one-off. It will be a continuous process and a hallmark of my leadership of this party.

I’ve always known that the real wisdom in this country does not come from a small self-appointed elite in society, but from people who are getting on with their lives, doing their jobs and raising their families. Unlike others, we will remain in touch with what real people care about.

During the election campaign, some in the media tried to tell us what the election was about – and they still are, but we knew what really mattered. We knew what people really wanted and cared about was a health service to meet their needs, good schools for their children, a good job to provide for their families and a government that would invest in their future.

We knew it because we travelled the length and breadth of Northern Ireland. We took the time to sit down and to listen. It was this party that fought the election on the issues that mattered to real people and real families. And it will be this party that delivers for them.

Now is time for us to step forward, not just as Northern Ireland’s leading unionist party, but as the party for all of unionism. It is time for us to chart a course towards Northern Ireland’s second century with confidence and ambition for the future.

Today, I want to set out my vision for that future.

I came into office to help people, to take decisions and to get things done. I want us to build a better, more prosperous Northern Ireland for all, in a stronger United Kingdom. And that means not just doing what is popular today, but doing what is necessary for the future. And it means building a Democratic Unionist Party fit and ready for the next century.

That is why the election was so important, because it marked a significant staging post on the road to normal politics. The Fresh Start Agreement paved the way for the creation of an official opposition at Stormont. I believe that is good for politics here and has the potential to improve the operation of government.

On the working of the Executive and Opposition:

Without parties in internal opposition, it has been easier to reach agreement and to get things done. Today, the Executive is functioning better than at any stage since the restoration of devolution in 1999.

But there has to be more to opposition than sound-bites, sniping and smug sneers. Though I suppose we should be fair to the Oppositions.

They have managed two achievements. Colum has grown a beard. And they came up with the nickname ‘Marlene’ for the deputy First Minister and myself.

Now Marlene is a popular TV character.

But poor old Mike and Colum – they’re Steptoe and Son.

And for younger people here, Steptoe and Son were a very odd couple.

Actually, the similarities are amazing. One was an older, bitter man. The other was a frustrated, younger man. They had to live together, but they never got on. And they made a living selling junk to the public.

Since the election Mike and Colum have only been interested in one thing – themselves.

No new policies for Northern Ireland, no positive contributions to our national debate, no alternative vision for where they want to take us.

We saw this clearly on display at the Ulster Unionist Party conference last week, where there was a lot of talk about voting Mike and getting Colum or voting Colum and getting Mike.

I’m not sure that’s a particularly appealing prospect, because either way you get weaker unionism, weaker policies and a much weaker Northern Ireland. But don’t worry, the people of Northern Ireland are awake to the joke that is the Mike and Colum show

That’s why this May people voted for us. And when they voted for us, they got the best result for unionism in a generation with a unionist First Minister, a unionist majority in the Assembly and a unionist majority in the Executive.

And I for one will not be watering down my unionism to form an electoral or political alliance with anyone or any party.

dup16-cheering-arlene-fosterWhile belittling the current nascent Opposition, the DUP leader acknowledged its potential value.

It is important that the new opposition arrangements are not just a one term wonder but become part of the fabric of our emerging constitutional set-up. That’s why over the course of this Assembly I would like to see legislation passed to make government and opposition the norm, not the exception.

In this world of change it has never been more important that we have steady leadership and delivery. That is what people voted for and that is what they will judge us on. But that doesn’t mean the decisions we make will all be easy or popular. Because government doesn’t work like that.

We will have to take tough decisions now to make life better in the future. If we want a better health service, we are going to have to fund it. If we want a better education system, we are going to have to reform it. And if we want to ensure that we can attract jobs to Northern Ireland to grow our economy and provide work for our young people, then we are going to have to invest in our future.

These are big issues to grapple with, but we are well equipped to deal with them. We are equipped because we are refreshing and renewing our party – just take our new Executive team as an example. I picked a young and dynamic Executive team with an average age of forty. I am sure you will agree that in the first six months Peter, Simon, Michelle, Paul and Alastair have all already justified their selection.

It is a huge privilege to be able to represent this party and this country at home and abroad. Our people do us proud where ever they go.

Northern Ireland’s performance both on and off the field at the European Football Championships in France in June was an inspiration to us all. Our team did us proud on the field, but our supporters were the real inspiration, not just to us but to fans right across the continent. That is the image of the new Northern Ireland that I want to see presented at home and abroad.

On the first of July I also had the enormous honour of representing Northern Ireland at Thiepval for the hundredth anniversary of the battle of the Somme. No one, whether there in person or watching the ceremony on television, could fail to be moved by the enormous sacrifice that was made a century ago. And no one could have doubted the enormous role played by Ulster people. We will never forget them, nor the service they have given.

Even now, in Northern Ireland our police, prison officers and security services continue to serve the entire community to keep us safe. Though we don’t always say it as often as we should, let me make it clear how much we value their work, their service and their sacrifice.

Last week I visited the RUC GC Garden and engaged with its members about the sacrifice of men and women during the dark days of the Troubles. The Association does such wonderful work remembering the past, but they also look to the future with research bursaries for serving PSNI officers.

The darkest moment of my time in office this year was the news that Prison Officer Adrian Ismay had died following a terrorist attack back in March. I didn’t know Adrian before the attack, but was in contact with him in the days before his death. Even in that short time I got a sense of the man that he was. His death came as a great shock and was a terrible loss for his family. We will not forget him nor will we allow those who murdered him to divert us from our course.

The tragedy of Adrian’s death made me all the more determined to make sure that we put an end to paramilitary activity once and for all. I would like to see this happen voluntarily with people moving from conflict to peace, but whether the process is voluntary or involuntary, it must happen.

We have agreed to introduce new legislation to tackle the scourge of paramilitarism and organised crime during this Assembly term. And when needed, it will be used. Let me make it clear, there will be no hiding place for those who do not take the path to peace. We must make the victims of crime – and not those who terrorise – our top priority. That means making sure we get the issues around the legacy of the past right.

I want to see progress made but we will only sign up to arrangements on the past that are right for those who have suffered the most. First and foremost it will be their voices I will be listening to, not those who would seek to rewrite the past. We will not tolerate a situation where those who defended us during the Troubles are subjected to the brunt of scrutiny while the perpetrators watch on.

On Brexit, the debate was over. Full stop.

Now I’m proud of the part our party played in the Brexit campaign, not just in Northern Ireland but throughout the United Kingdom. Our electoral success has made a difference at Stormont but at Westminster too we have a real and present influence. We stood shoulder to shoulder with those who wanted the British people to take back control of their futures.

I know that there were many good people on both sides of this debate. I respect those who believed that the United Kingdom’s best interests were served by remaining within the European Union, but I have no time for those who want to refight the referendum.

That debate is over. Rather than talking up the challenges, we should be looking towards the opportunities.

Brexit represents the biggest economic opportunity for this country in decades. But the only way that we can ensure that Northern Ireland’s interests are best served is if we are united and determined.

Arlene Foster enumerated “five simple principles” that will guide her negotiations.

Firstly, Brexit means Brexit. The whole of the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

Secondly, the economic and social benefits for Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom are far more important than our relationship with the EU.

Thirdly, any deal must recognise the reality of our geography and of our history.

Fourthly, we will work with whoever we need to – to get the best deal for Northern Ireland at home and abroad.

And fifthly, whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, it will not divert me from delivering on my plan to build a better Northern Ireland.

We must not allow the Brexit negotiations to divert and distract from the normal business of government, nor should it be used as a basis to reopen settled political agreements. Those will by my guiding principles in the two years to come and I believe they will help lead us to a better future.

She directed some of her harshest words of the speech towards the Irish government.

On this subject let me say one final thing about the role of the Irish government. Now, I am pleased that relations with Irish Government are probably as good as they have been at any point in our history and I will continue to work with them where it is in the best interests of Northern Ireland to do so.

However, the reality is that political instability in Dublin, and fears for their own future, are driving their decision-making at present as much as any concern about Northern Ireland. And while they seek to take the views of people of Northern Ireland on the issue of Brexit at home, their representatives are sent out around the world to talk down our economy and to attempt to poach our investors.

It is clear conference that the one place that a hard border does exist is in the mind of the Irish Government! Well, I don’t believe in a hard border and am happy to welcome shoppers looking for a bargain from across the border anytime they want to come!

And I am quite confident that the investment offer that will be available, both now and in the future, will mean our reputations as a place to invest will continue to grow.

This has been a year to remember for unionism and for Northern Ireland but we must use it as a foundation for the future and not the high water mark of our achievement or aspiration.

There will be challenges ahead but we have the opportunity to build for the future.

In 2021, at the end of this Assembly term we will celebrate the centenary of Northern Ireland. I want us to mark it with events that are befitting of the occasion. 2021 will be a seminal moment in the history of our country. It will be a testament to the strength and fortitude of our predecessors that we have reached this point.

Against all of the odds, what we now know as Northern Ireland was saved from Home Rule and a pathway to Irish Independence. Against all foes we have defended our place in the United Kingdom and ensured our British way of life. In the months to come I will be assembling people to co-ordinate and work on our 2021 events and we will be announcing some exciting plans.

Now we must look to the next century. To build a better Northern Ireland not just for ourselves, but for everyone. We need unity of purpose, we need a vision for the future and we need the strength to persevere. I have learned over the last few years that unity of purpose will only come though this party. We are the only vehicle to keep Northern Ireland moving forward with confidence.

Because of my history and my background, I believe I have something special to offer in the role as leader of this party, and I hope it is that I can bring unionists together.

My welcome to this party and my election as its leader is the clearest possible signal that the DUP is open to all who share our vision and our values. When I joined this party, the red carpet was rolled out for me and I know the same has been true of others and I want to guarantee those who are joining us, now and in the future, the same will be the case for you.

I want a party that you can join if you share our vision for the union, not one which shuns people who cannot agree with every single policy.

Though if elected, expect a three line whip to force you to vote against your view on policies you disagree with. [Ed – that’s politics!]

Attention was drawn to recently collected converts from the UUP.

I want to make this not just the largest unionist party, but the party for all of unionism. Over these past few months we have had new members joining us from all across the political spectrum.

Over the last forty-eight hours I have been delighted to welcome Belfast Councillor Graham Craig, and Limavady Councillor Aaron Callan to our ranks from the Ulster Unionist Party. They join a growing number of unionists who are uniting with us.

Today, I am also delighted to welcome the former North Antrim UUP Association Secretary and Assembly candidate Andrew Wright to our conference having joined the Democratic Unionist Party this morning from the Ulster Unionist Party.

And the door remains open …

The DUP will help shape Northern Ireland for decades to come and I say to those who want to help us in that great enterprise, “come and join us.” I can assure them all of the warm welcome that awaits them.

As First Minister I have the opportunity to meet with people from all walks of life and all across the world. We take inspiration from what some of them have achieved, but much more so they are inspired by what has been achieved in Northern Ireland.

dup16-flag-waving-after-speechNo one can resist the lure of an astronaut …

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Thales factory in East Belfast and to meet Major Tim Peake, who inspired so many of us during his six-month tenure on the International Space Station. During the course of that event, the audience was reminded of our proud shipbuilding heritage a hundred years ago, when Belfast was the world’s largest and most productive shipyard. It is a history we are all familiar with.

But what we are less familiar with is the fact that today, at the start of the twenty first century, we are now at the cutting edge once again. This time in the world of commercial spacecraft propulsion. Who would have believed that we would be manufacturing products which are quite literally out of this world?

While not everyone will have the opportunity to be a rocket scientist, no one should be inhibited by a lack of ambition or aspiration. I want to keep Northern Ireland moving forward for a better future for our people, for a stronger United Kingdom and a more prosperous Northern Ireland. We have made a good start but we can, and we will, achieve so much more.

Let us build on the firm foundations which we have inherited. And let us leave a legacy for our country’s next hundred years. If you want what we want for the future. If you believe that you can help change our society for the better and have a part to play, come with us and let us take our country forward.

Let us do what is needed now, so that one day, we can look back with affection and satisfaction at the progress we have made. And let us make sure that those who come after us can say that we fought the good fight and that we kept the faith.

That is my vision, and with your support, and the mandate given to us by the people of Northern Ireland, I intend to make it a reality.

Thank you.

Shortly after 10am, the party’s MEP addressed delegates.

Friends, I am delighted that after 45 years, Northern Ireland’s future is secure – outside the European Union … We voted to secure our right to make our own laws, control our own borders and spend our own money. Our nation has shown the aspiration and courage to chart its own course in the world, free from the shackles of Brussels.

Nobody should be more proud of this moment in history than this Party. Brussels first felt the might of Dr Paisley in 1979. This party was the original flag bearer of euro-scepticism. We have never wavered.

When the opportunity came, it was our elected representatives, our party members, and our supporters that were on the front line, battling to make the case for a sovereign UK.

On those who wish NI and Scotland could Remain:

New polls both here and in Scotland are clear. Support for the union is higher than ever before. Nicola Sturgeon should remember that even though 1.6 million Scots voted to remain in the EU, over 2 million voted to remain in the UK.

She added:

This party respects all those who saw merit in remaining in the EU. We want to work with them to ensure that Northern Ireland’s future after our exit benefits everyone. That means working with everyone to secure the best deal for Northern Ireland – even our political opponents. This will not be an easy task and many challenges lie ahead but we have the ability to rise to them.

In his deputy leader speech, Nigel Dodds said that while “other parties now define themselves by what they are against … we define ourselves positively by what we are for”.

Other parties define themselves by opposition to the DUP. We define ourselves by our positive vision for our future. Other parties define themselves by making a negative vision out of opposition. We define ourselves by engaging with others to make Northern Ireland work.

Last week there was talk at the UUP conference of celebrating NI’s new centenary by candlelight. Doesn’t that just sum them up? No not candlelight. We are looking forward to our new century with sunny optimism for a brighter future.

The North Belfast MP referred to the Assembly campaign.

We are told by some that we only succeeded at the election because of the fear of Sinn Fein. But when LucidTalk carried out their post Assembly election poll analysis what did they find to explain our success? In their report of 23 May 2016 it states: “The most mentioned reasons by unionist voters of all parties were: better leader, better candidates, better campaign”. Yes the people voted DUP for the positive leadership, the better candidates and the successful campaign we ran.

And since the election, whilst we have got on with the job of delivering, all we’ve heard from others is opposition. Always remember the SDLP and the UUP opted for opposition out of weakness. They both had their worst Assembly election results ever. How else to try to distract and try to move on?

Delivering a mid-afternoon speech, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton announced the development of a new International Trade Plan for Northern Ireland (with a Trade Advisory Board, NI Trade Ambassadors, and Invest NI’s expansion into ten more international presence by the end of 2017) as well as the creation of a new Air Routes Task Force (to help devise new policies and interventions to improve NI’s air connectivity).

, , , , ,

  • mac tire

    And by the same token the failure of SF is no excuse for failure by others. Perhaps the governments should lead by example.

  • eireanne3

    Talking about “ignore the South ,they don’t exist”
    Does anyone remember the weather map showing NI as some sort of weird north-west Atlantic island?
    Not so long ago, within living memory, we used to see something like this:

  • Brendan Heading

    I’m asking you why you think they have been weak on gay marriage.

    did you even read my reply ?

  • eireanne3

    it’s a question of numbers – remember the DUP’s main aspiration is to keep Sinn Féin reined in so the DUP can do what it likes

  • ted hagan

    The DUP’s Nigel Dodds alerted the party to the possibility of a snap Westminster election. But, surely, as I was reminded last week, it would be extremely difficult for Theresa May to call an early election because of five-year fixed term parliament act, which was brought in by the LidDem/Conservative government four years ago?

  • NotNowJohnny

    That doesn’t seem an unreasonable point to make to the extent that it can be done. Although even if was possible, I doubt it is any more likely to happen than the the UK government doing the same thing. You’ll have noted there were two questions there – I assume that by not answering the first one, you are now reconsidering your claim about SF’s reaching out?

  • Teddybear

    Why do people assume Churches should change their rules to suit modern times as if they are political parties?

    God is not progressive or liberal therefore why would a church change the immutable rules of God?

    Even if you are an athiest, surely you can see the logic in why a church cannot change Gods law

  • Teddybear

    Maybe you’re right about the DUP but such people you describe deserve a vote and representation for their views. Democracy isn’t just a toy for liberals and the educated you know.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Yes. I read right to the end but didn’t notice anything about the gay marriage point which I challenged you on. However I did notice that you made a claim about me which I don’t think is accurate.

  • Jollyraj

    “Nothing can be gained by SF……. sinking to the level of Arlene and co”

    I won’t speak for the other parties you mentioned – but certainly SF would have to rise an awful lot to reach the ‘level’ of Arlene.

  • AntrimGael

    I was recently speaking to a former Shorts/Bombardier worker who took redundancy, a Unionist by the way. He told me he firmly believes Bombardier have started a gradual withdrawal from Belfast and they will be gone within 5 – 10 years.

  • AntrimGael

    Pull the bloody useless Stormont circus down. Any political administration that has individuals like Nelson McCausland and Paul Givan as ministers deserves to be ridiculed and also deserves to fail.

  • AntrimGael

    I agree totally. The DUP are fundamentalist anti-Catholic bigots and they will never change. However the Shinners and SDLP are doing quite well financially out of the Stormont charade and will NEVER bring it down. I would rather be ruled by Oompah Loompahs.

  • Gaygael

    The green. They brought the first motion in 2012, and Sinn Fein had to be encouraged to support the motion. Sinn Fein have been the second strongest.

  • AntrimGael

    Yes I do loathe political Unionism. It is an ideology based on violence, anarchy, supremacy, colonialism, domination and medieval fundamentalism. Like the South African whites and US Southern racists it must be confronted and defeated as it will be thankfully by demographics. This is not to be confused with disliking Protestants for being Protestants; people should be free to profess their religion how they see fit and I would NEVER hate them for that.

  • chrisjones2

    “a former Shorts/Bombardier worker who took redundancy, a Unionist by the way”

    I assume that is why they are investing tens of millions in a joint venture building a large new plant in Belfast beside their existing factory.Thats just what you do as you pull out

  • chrisjones2

    Stand by it all you like.

    The production of the C series was delayed by a problem with the engines. The FAA certification was done 3 months ago and they are moving into production but along the way Bombardier is restructuring and Belfast is losing some staff as part of the overall change in the short trem. As production ramps up those will be replaced by new staff with new skills – making carbon fibre components as opposed to riveting sheets of alloy.So it was more Brexit Bollox

  • chrisjones2

    “Yes I do loathe political Unionism. It is an ideology based on violence, anarchy, supremacy, colonialism, domination and medieval fundamentalism.”

    Preumably unlike Republicanism which is mererly based on violence,anarchy, racist supreacy, patriachy, mysogeny, domination and adherence to the myth of a superior celtic culture with prior righst to this country

  • chrisjones2

    Ah….so only all the barons and key people in Scotland were bankrupt. And at that stage who loaned money to the Kings /Paid taxes keep the country going? And without that backing where was Scotland.

    In any case England didnt conquor it – it bought it out of hock at Scotland’s request

  • chrisjones2

    I honestly do not care ….but they will have a free right to choose

  • Croiteir

    As the country had no national debt it was still able to be taxed, just like England a few years beforehand in the reign of Charles

  • Croiteir

    And the police – they trained Gadaffi’s goons

  • Jollyraj

    “But as one young protestant from bangor said to me quite recently ‘i dont know whats more embarrassing, the orange order or my supposed leaders of politics in Unionism, either way, i am out of here'”

    Putting aside my doubts that DD really has Protestant friends with whom to converse (given the naked bigotry he so often displays here), one wonders whether he expressed any embarassment of his own over his cloying affection for Sinn Fein – a party that sucks most of its strength from promoting, then profitting from, sectarian hatred of Protestants like his young acquaintance.

  • Jollyraj

    I lived in England for a while, prior to spending several years travelling halfway around the world. London aside, I found England to be broadly similar to NI in many respects. And, yes, you’d certainly find the odd person who’d mistakenly refer to you as Irish (though nowhere near as many as some would have you believe) – though I always politely set them straight on that 🙂

  • Kevin Breslin

    Actually Bombardier’s problems have nothing to do with a Brexit event that has not happened yet. I’m sure higher import costs for fuel doesn’t help. It seems you were the one trying to link these job losses to “Brexit Bollox” and ergo “Self-Remoaning”.

    All I did was highlight there was a problem for workers in East Belfast.

    The fact that Bombardier is moving up its schedule to cut costs despite that vote should really show that the DUP needs to face up to these concerns in the here and now rather than wait for “opportunities”.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    1. “Welcome to the jobs of mass murder” What have they killed to date ? One might say they have prevented mass murder and the slaughter of soldier cannon fodder !
    2. “Once Westminster tires of you it will soon get rid of you” Nothing new there. We knew that 100 years ago ! The problem is its hard to get rid of the British Irish ! We have been murdered, butchered, oaths swore against us to drive us into the Irish Sea – But we are still here !
    3. “Scotland doesn’t want the poison that is Ulster” Just go to a Glasgow Old Firm game and see real poison, yeah they hang efficies from stands in the cauldrum of hate !

  • NotNowJohnny

    Fair point.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I don’t think it’s correct to say all the time. Take Bexit. The joint letter from the executive was pretty much a SF position. In fact it was as close to a remain position as you could get without actually remaining.

  • Reader

    Declan Doyle: With 70% in favour of marraige equality, its clear that the north is shaking off the stagnant curse of fundamentalism in the way the Free State did decades ago.
    Wow – how many decades ago did the ‘Free State’ reach 70% in favour of marriage equality? And thereafter why did it take that many decades to deliver it?
    (I have elderly relatives that still use the term ‘Free State’ without meaning to give offence. I assume you *do* want to give offence by using the term?)

  • Reader

    Declan Doyle: We are losing the best of them and are likely to be left with fleg morons and fundamentalist head bangers.
    Ireland went through multiple generations of emigration without losing the ability of the remaining population to pop out talented cohorts when the opportunity arose. I think populations are more diverse and resilient than you assume, once cultural issues are resolved.

  • Reader

    SeaanUiNeill: A rather neat little observation…
    No – not ‘neat’, ignorant. Tiocfadh Armani sent all of their smart people into Law – maybe at least one of them should have taken a course in statistics.
    In your career, didn’t you make decisions based on sampling and interviews?

  • Roger

    The other question: the answer to that can’t be separated from the answer I gave. I claimed SF haven’t reached out etc and they haven’t. They’ve defended their shameful, murderous role; continued on with the same leaders as before and with their lies/silence as regards their actions. Families of victims and many more like me would like full disclosure; not smug handshakes with Mrs Windsor.

  • Brendan Heading

    My direct answer to your question is above; you asked me how SF has been weak on gay marriage; I answered :

    SF’s weakness is their failure to enforce the agreement reached in Fresh Start whereby the DUP would not deploy the Petition of Concern.

    I’m not going to get drawn into this business of constantly repeating myself.

  • Roger

    Enda Kenny and Theresa May et al didn’t play much of a role. Marty, Gerry et al did. They know exactly what they did. No need for Tribunals of Inquiry etc. They just need to tell the truth. Rather a simple matter for them. Out with it.

    That I favour full disclosure of wrongdoing by all parties doesn’t detract from fact that SF, if they say they want to “reach out” ought to do it now with the truth.

  • Barneyt

    Are you really saying time-travel was not commercially viable 🙂

  • Walter Neff

    You make a big deal of the fact that (according to the Belfast Telegraph) – a majority of Catholics want to remain part of the UK. That may well be true (although I would certainly dispute the percentage in the “survey”).

    However it is clear that while an increasing number of young Catholics aren’t bothering to vote – they certainly aren’t voting for Unionist parties. There is no increase in Catholics voting for Unionist parties – I can honestly say that I know a few Catholics who would vote Alliance, I don’t know any who would vote for UUP/DUP and my family/friends are hardly diehard Republicans.

    Its easy to knock Sinn Fein and I’m no supporter. However, the Unionist parties are no better – they are still heavily influenced by the OO (an organisation representing just over 1% of the NI population).

    The truth is that there are plenty of people in particularly the DUP who don’t want a taig about the place. The main aim of many Unionist politicians is to keep themuns in their place. If you think Catholics can’t see through that – then you really have no idea.

    I believe that Brexit has shaken a fair proportion of young Catholics (and Protestants come to that) out of their complacency. I also think it is a racing certainty that the UUP/DUP will have a pact at the next election.

    Despite your use of terms such as “mopes” – the CNR people are not stupid. Arlene Foster has proven that all she wants to do is convince the Campbell/Wilson element of the DUP that she’s one of them. Under her “leadership” there is not even a pretence from the DUP at outreach to Catholics and the UUP are hypocrites (sectarian pact anyone?).

    This can only go on for so long – Catholics are already in the majority in the younger age groups – it is only in the over 65 group that Unionists have any sizeable advantage.

    If I were a Unionist – I wouldn’t be so smug. I’d be worried about the continuing alienation of the Catholic population by
    so-called Unionist “leaders”. If the CNR population are motivated and find their voice again, they are the ones with the growing demographic of young voters – not the declining demographics of voters who are dying off.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Think you are – as usual – a little confused there.

    Violence? Yes , when faced with violence and being denied a democratic mandate to achieve your rights peacefully you are left with little choice.

    Racist Supremacy? Complete nonsense, where did you manage to come up with that crock of crap? As someone who is half English and attended two schools in Ireland I think I’d have come across that one if it existed.

    Oh and whilst on the subject, what’s all that swaggering coat trailing nonsense about around the 12th?

    Patriarchy? Are you trying to claim that Unionism by contrast is a Matriarchy? Because I can’t say I’ve noticed too many women in the OO parades.

    Misogyny? You need to explain that one, because from where I’m looking if anything it applies to unionism far more than republicanism.
    I can think of a few influential women on the republican side, not too many on your side.

    Domination? Now you seriously are losing all sense of reality. There’s only one side that’s constantly attempted to dominate the other in this dispute.

    Prior Rights? Well lets look at the evidence, were the Irish there first? Did they own the land they lived on? Was it taken by force following invasion?

    Pretty much sums up a claim for prior rights I’d have thought.

    And by the way,hating a political viewpoint is perfectly reasonable if that viewpoint has negative effects on you and yours, hating someone because of race or creed is entirely different and unacceptable behavior.

    Just in case you didn’t get what AntrimGael was pointing out.

  • Ciaran74

    Not true.

  • chrisjones2

    Afraid not Kevin ….. you followed your usual manic depressive line of posts that post referrendum everything is doom and gloom and bad bad bad ………. when actually it is not. Yes there are problems and (amaziongly) changes happening but many offer promise for the future

  • chrisjones2

    Sadly it looks like the Trump is back in the race in the USA witha 13% fall in Hillarys rating

    It aint over till the fat lady sings

  • chrisjones2

    Is that the Army Council you mean?

  • chrisjones2

    I thought they trained the goons after Ghadaffi and wasnt it the Army that trained them too…until they had to be sent home for raping people

  • Kevin Breslin

    Again Bombardier has had issues before the referendum (arguably made them worse) and the DUP need to face up to these concerns.


    You are going to have to learn the difference between physics and psychology, the DUP cannot expect engineers who base their abilities in real world situations to behave like “Neo from the Matrix” when politicians myopically increase the path of least resistance for them working in an internationally connected world.

  • 05OCT68

    In ref: to what?

  • Sir Rantsalot

    I’m glad they have tried to make a start with Brexit plans. I wouldn’t call the 5 things listed as ‘principles’, but its a start. I would like to see the DUP put forward a list of people they would like to be involved in the negotiations. We need people from the business world, preferably with international experience.

  • hotdogx

    Did they finish the show with a hokey cokey? Left foot in left foot out and all that!
    Political instability, from NI one of the most unstable regions of europe that’s the kettle calling the pot black!!!

  • 05OCT68

    If what you say re cremation & the church, that’s for the church & its congregation, nothing to do with the government. I often wonder why people are so knowledgeable about a religion they aren’t a member of.

  • The Irishman

    The new plant you talk off was planned before they started having financial difficulties again. Having worked in Bombardier for roughly 15 years. I recently lost my job due to the financial difficulties. I have many friends who still work there and have told me that not that long ago, Bombardier came within a few weeks off folding!
    With the redundancies planned for next year being brought forward, it points to me they are still in a very dangerous time indeed.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Let’s give SF a little credit, that whole men who have had sex with men blood donation passed on their watch. Not that I had any doubts it was a reasonably easy thing for the DUP to change their mind over.

  • lizmcneill

    I do appreciate the dark humour that Belfast industry’s most lasting legacy is the most famous sunken ship in the world.

  • Gaygael

    I would also say that the response from Sinn Fein on Arlene’s intention to disregard the protocol on the petition of concern suggests that wont do much.

  • Katyusha

    Not a bad idea, T.E. Build a submarine pen on the North coast and grant Scotland the surface patrol fleet it needs and deserves.

  • Granni Trixie

    Not sure exactly what you mean by ‘lack of diplomacy’ but I’m with you if you refer to her references to Ireland/the south.
    Instead of giving a lead by signalling grown up cross border relationships exist there she goes pressing a hot button for the benefit of the DUP faithful. If she takes Paisley as a role model I suppose it’s all we can expect.

    I’m embarrassed for her.

  • john millar

    The lack of birth control in sections of the community and its product
    ” The green veins of Irishness and progressive liberalism are stretching across the province and safely embedding themselves under the hardened pungent skin of a rigor mortic Unionism.”
    Whilst attractive for some is poor reflection on society as a whole (unless of course there has been an upsurge in virgin births and arrivals from outer space)

  • john millar

    Ah the bullet dodged again— better to debunk the argument than pretend it is not there

  • john millar

    “What further reaching out to you think SF should become involved in?”?
    They could reach into their (allegedly deep ) pockets and pay up for the damage/deaths they support and defend?

    PS this applies to any other gobshites in the same position

  • eireanne3

    and a pair of rusting cranes that are an eyesore and a blight on the land/sea- scape of belfast lough

  • ted hagan

    When was Steptoe and Son last on the telly… forty years ago perhaps? The Arlene reference to the comedy duo simply reflects the age profile of many of the DUP backwoods men and women.

  • eireanne3

    The show ran from 1962 to 1974 (including a five-year break). Albert Steptoe (father) was played by Dublin-born actor wilfrid brambell (father was a cashier in guiness brewery).

  • Declan Doyle

    I certainly hope u are correct

  • Croiteir

    There are real problems here – not least the cost of electric which was one of the main factors in Michelin closing

  • Croiteir


  • Croiteir

    No – the police sent people in January 2009 if not earlier, Superintendent Kevin Smyth was named as being involved. The British ambassador to Libya, Oliver Miles, said

    “If you go back to Tony Blair’s first visit to Libya in 2004 one of the very first things that came out of that was a statement about co-operation in the military field, in security,”

    So you see it was not just Blair who was the ally, but the entire state apparatus and arms industry, and who else do we know is very interested in selling arms to the Arabs? Ah that’s right the Princeling.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I have more than a nodding aquaintence with marketing over my long film career Reader, which has innoculated me against any naïveté in this matter. I have seen what comes from making decisions regarding big money from careless “sampling and interviews”. Lost clients and lost bucks through “of the mark” advertising campaigns!

    You can ask the same person two differently phrased questions one after another and get them to answer in a manner which echos with the injunction to “lie on your belly with their toes in the air” as the inebriated early morning fittness instructor told her mid-west audience to do over the radio in the early1950s!!! ( Film people collect “blooper” reels!)

    My own feeling is this is simply another instance of the growing culture of “nudging”, something which finds the presentation of carefully constructed “sampling and interviews” an invaluable aid:


  • Kevin Breslin

    Indeed, which is why the region needs cross border energy supply among other options.

  • 05OCT68

    The rest of the world has nothing to do with it spoofer

  • Croiteir

    couple this with the concern over Kilroot post 2020, the fact that the electric is on an all Ireland basis and yet, somehow, none of our parties have picked this up. They are real amateurs, only reacting to a crises when it hits them in the face, and some times not even then, as was seen when Michelin closed.

  • ted hagan

    They all squeeze the government for all they can get in subsidies and when the well is dry they pull out. it has happened time and time again. Why should this be an exception?

  • ted hagan

    Yea, it was a good show but no one under forty will have a clue who she’s referiing to.

  • chrisjones2

    It was signed off last year

  • tmitch57

    If one is an atheist, one sees that it is not God’s (god’s) law, but rather the church’s and will change with the needs of the church.

  • tmitch57

    “They just need to tell the truth. Rather a simple matter for them.”

    If Sinn Fein’s efforts to deal with the disappeared are anything to go by, it is far from either a simple or an easy matter for them.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Chris, simply read the world wide reports!!! Bombardier has seriouslty damaged itself now with that arrant folly, the “C” series, whose delays in going into production in a compeditive market have ensured that only by offering punitive terms against profit for the company can orders be secured. It has been bailed out by Trudeau, but in order to retain Canadian jobs, and even this is under threat with many Canadians calling for Bombardier to be taken off its “welfare” billions of taxpayer money.

    Bombardier cannot be called florishing by any stretch, and the few local Bombardier middle management whom I know personally are simply wondering “when” and scanning the vacancies.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    That’s what I’m hearing from middle management myself.

  • Roger

    Did they really make efforts in that regard?

  • Jollyraj

    Well, it does if only to the extent that it counteracts the favourite Republican credo of unionists being neanderthal unthinking subhumans who’ve never set foot outside the UK.

    BUt feel free to ignore that and address what I said about the rest of the UK if you wish.

  • NotNowJohnny

    So far I’ve had two responses, both focussed on events more that twenty years in the past. Is there a conclusion to be drawn?

  • NotNowJohnny

    I interpreted your response as SF being weak with the DUP on enforcing the petition of concern rather than gay marriage. Can you expand on the link between gay marriage and the petition of concern? I’m also intestested in how the agreement can be enforced in relation to the petition of concern and which specific parts of the agreement have been breached by the DUP in relation to this and when.

  • billypilgrim1

    “…the favourite Republican credo of unionists being neanderthal unthinking subhumans who’ve never set foot outside the UK.”

    Who on earth has ever said that?

  • billypilgrim1

    “It wasn’t that long ago.”

    At this stage, we actually are talking about rather a long time ago.

  • billypilgrim1

    “Nudging” makes it sound subtle. Polling on the reunification of Ireland is subtle as a brick.

    A few years ago there was a poll putting support for a UI at 4% – not 40%, but 4!


    Polls are instruments for influencing opinion every bit as much as they are for measuring it. When the status quo feels threatened, polls tend to lean more towards influencing, and become correspondingly less reliable in terms of measuring – something we’ve been seeing a lot of evidence of lately.

  • billypilgrim1

    “Have they fully moved on?”

    What would being “fully” moved on look like?

    Basically, until the day comes when Irish people on principle always do exactly the opposite of what the Catholic Church says, you won’t believe that they aren’t just faking it?

  • billypilgrim1

    First time I’ve ever said this to Teddybear, but here goes:

    Hear hear!

  • billypilgrim1

    Teddybear’s question was a good one. You appear not to have understood it, and have offered a response grounded in a narrow-minded solipsism that is characteristic of atheists.

    Atheists do understand, don’t they, that people in the Churches DO believe in God and in God’s law? And therefore you can see how from THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE CHURCHES, they cannot change God’s law?

  • billypilgrim1

    In political discourse throughout the western world, ‘progressive’ tends to refer to parties that are socially liberal (eg on issues such as gender equality, opposition to racism, minority rights etc) and economically left-of-centre.

    SF certainly belong on the ‘progressive’ spectrum. Indeed they are almost certainly the most ‘progressive’ of the major parties in NI, and are only really challenged for that title in the south by Labour and the Social Democrats.

    Why don’t you think they are ‘progressive’? On which issues / policies don’t they cut the mustard, for you?

  • billypilgrim1

    Why is a high birthrate a ‘poor reflection on society’?

    When did we in the west become anti-procreation?

  • billypilgrim1

    So SF are on their knees at the moment?

  • billypilgrim1

    “…Scotland was not bankrupt, certain people may have been…”

    Yes, but those ‘certain people’ were the oligarchs who owned and ran Scotland. They literally sold their country in order to save themselves personally from bankruptcy – arguably the most unpatriotic parcel of rogues in history?

  • billypilgrim1

    If Irish republicanism really is based on all of that, why doesn’t the, y’know, Irish Republic, reflect any of that?

    It’s almost as though that’s not what Irish republicanism is about at all…

  • billypilgrim1

    Again, hear hear.

    I actually think Dáil Éireann would benefit from the participation of an unapologetically socially conservative party like the DUP, and unionism more generally. I think there are quite a lot of people in Ireland, north and south, who would respond to their message on certain issues.

  • Declan Doyle

    Will if being cautious and diplomatic means being on your knees then yes they are.

  • billypilgrim1

    Indeed. She was a capable minister, but it seems she just doesn’t have what it takes to be a leader.

    Brexit is a huge challenge of political leadership, and she has been consistently screwing it up right from the off.

    That line about ‘poaching’ wasn’t just bad politics and unbecoming of her position. It also just made her sound like a pathetic loser.

  • billypilgrim1

    No, that’s not what being on your knees means. It means being supine. It means being a good croppy and lying down.

  • Declan Doyle

    Well then no, they are not on their knees.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The “nudging” is there too, BP1, all that “sheepdogging” of opinion into the “correct” rat runs, all learnt from Edward Bernays:


    The most interesting thing is that the “Behavioural Insights Team” at Westminster have suddenly become all respectable, and, even “acceptable” in a manner in which this kind of manipulation would never have been even a decade ago……….

    Marcuse “One Dimensional Man” but in a seemingly “good”way now!

  • john millar

    When did we in the west become anti-procreation?”
    Not anti procreation- more pro birth control

    Sort of- defer children until accommodation secured
    Limit family size to a level family income will support
    Cast an aside a the destruction of the planet/country rampant fecundity has produced

    That sortof thing

  • john millar

    “Is there a conclusion to be drawn?”
    Probably– it might be the conclusion that SF and co are defined by the events “more than twenty years in the past” now festooned around their necks.
    (always enjoy the squirms when SF and particularly their current young familiars as they defend La Mon Enniskillen etc)

Join us for the Slugger End of Year Review Show, Wed 14th Dec 2016
Get your tickets