The DUP launched their manifesto at Stormont Hotel today. The document which is basically an appendix to their 2016 Manifesto sets out some of the party’s approach towards the negotiations that are likely to follow this election.
Arlene Foster set out 10 principles;
1. We will work to avoid Direct Rule and get local government back at Stormont as quickly as possible. That means we will work with all of those who have a mandate to see if it is possible to get an Executive formed rather than handing powers back to the Westminster government.
2. Our demands in negotiations will be proportionate to those of Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein. While we have always regarded the present arrangements as transitional to a more normal form of democracy, we are prepared to continue to work the present structures. However, if Sinn Fein are putting more fundamental changes on the agenda we will be happy to table our own long list of demands.
3. As has been the case since 2007, we remain committed to working constructively and in partnership with all those who are in an Executive after an election. The reality is that whatever the exact structures we have at Stormont, these will only work if the parties are prepared to work within them and work at them. As recently as last November, Sinn Fein accepted our good faith efforts and I hope once the election is out of the way that they will do so again.
4. We will respond positively to any proposals to increase transparency, accountability and to help the institutions function more effectively. It is clear there is a lack of confidence around the operation of devolution in Northern Ireland. We will support as an early action of a new Executive, the introduction of legislative and other measures to address these concerns.
5. We will not compromise on fundamental unionist principles in order to retain power. While we want to see devotion restored, we will honour the mandate on which we have been elected and maintain our consistent defence of the Union.
6. We will not permit the rewriting of the past or the persecution of the security forces. In this new political era, we will defend those who defended us through the dark days of the Troubles.
7. We will oppose any Border Poll outside the terms of the Belfast Agreement. As we have seen from Scotland, in the absence of any likely change in the status of Northern Ireland, a referendum on our future constitutional position would be divisive and damaging.
8. We will stand over those proposals for reform as set out in our ‘Making Stormont Work Better’ document which have not yet been delivered. While we have made significant progress in delivering on our commitments, a number of key changes remain outstanding.
9. We will work to ensure the full implementation of the Military Covenant in Northern Ireland. It is unacceptable that those who have served in our armed forces should be treated differently in Northern Ireland than they are in other parts of the UK.
10. We will honour all previous commitments we have made on the basis that republicans will honour theirs as well. Even after this unnecessary and damaging election, we will stand over the commitments that we have made in the past to help ensure politics works and people can have confidence moving forward.
The DUP leader had some choice words for her opponent, Mike Nesbitt;
Equally, even if Mike Nesbitt won every seat in which his party has even the remotest of chances, they cannot win more seats than Sinn Fein.
They are not running to win … they are now running to stop the DUP from winning.
That couldn’t be clearer from Mike’s advice of transferring to the SDLP without even getting a reciprocal agreement from the SDLP in advance.
I know other parties don’t like us saying it, but the reality is that every vote for another unionist party is a vote which is lost in the battle to make sure that Sinn Fein does not win this election.
Northern Ireland must be the only country in the world where people who contest elections claim that it does not matter who wins the elections.
There was not one mention of RHI and over 3o mentions of Sinn Fein & Gerry Adams.
There was also this which was put down to the fact that Arlene had a cold;
No questions allowed at @duponline manifesto launch. I personally have never experienced such a thing
— Gareth Gordon (@BBCGarethG) February 20, 2017
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs