31 May 2017
Speaking at the launch of the Party’s Westminster manifesto, DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds said,
DUP Deputy Leader, Leader of the DUP Parliamentary Party, Spokesman on Reform and Constitutional issues and Foreign Affairs
It is great to be back in South Antrim not just to launch our manifesto for next week’s election but also to lend our support to Paul’s campaign. In just over a week’s time I hope that we are welcoming Paul as a new member of the Democratic Unionist Party team at Westminster.
Ladies and gentlemen, what we offer the people of Northern Ireland at this election is indeed a team. A big, strong, united unionist team experienced at standing up for our Province in Parliament and speaking out on the issues that matter to the lives of the citizens of Northern Ireland.
Returning a strong team is absolutely essential. Single MPs or those who don’t show up cannot exert the kind of influence that Northern Ireland.
Only the Democratic Unionist Party has the size and strength to stand strong for Northern Ireland at Westminster.
And we will use the size and strength that the voters give us next week for one purpose and one purpose only – to deliver the best possible deal for Northern Ireland.
What we are presenting to the electorate in our manifesto is what the DUP Team at Westminster will seek to deliver on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland and the whole of the United Kingdom over the next parliamentary term. It is our blueprint for a better United Kingdom and it focuses on the issues that matter to people across our nation.
We want to see Budgets that focus on increasing family incomes. Our national and local economy has been improving steadily over the last number of years but the DUP believes that it is essential that the benefits of economic growth are felt by everyone, everywhere.
An improving economy must not just be for the benefit of big companies or confined to London and the South East. Growth must also have a meaningful and positive impact on the lives of hardworking families in every part of our nation. That’s why we want to see increases in the National Living Wage and the personal tax allowance, protection for pensions and the safeguarding of universal benefits.
Our economy has been growing with falling unemployment, rising exports and increasing tourist numbers. We want to build on that success by attracting more and better paying jobs, developing an ambitious Industrial Strategy, a focus on international trade, a secure and sustainable energy supply and the securing the skills to succeed.
The DUP has a track record of positively reforming public services and streamlining the political system. That work on improving the public services that our people rely on must continue. Our manifesto focuses particularly on giving every child the chance to succeed in a reformed education system, meaningful progress on the necessary health reforms initiated by this Party and how we can make our streets safer.
The recent harrowing events in Manchester highlighted how the old strategic threat of the Cold War and nuclear conflict has been replaced by a multiplicity of threats, both conventional and unconventional, and not just from states but also from groups of linked terror movements.
The DUP does not believe that the present defence arrangements for the United Kingdom are adequate enough to cope with the emerging threats in the 21st Century. We want to see a new national security and Strategic Defence Review, a review of the Military Covenant, a review of the present terrorism legislation and we will continue to resist in the strongest possible terms any attempt to rewrite the past.
We have heard much from some in recent times about respect. Respect does not mean simply acceding to everything asked for or demanded by different groups or communities. Instead, it is a dialogue of what is wanted, what is needed and what can be practically delivered to ensure the expression of an identity and its successful communication to the next generation. In our manifesto, we set out our contribution to the discussion and development of a real respect agenda focusing particularly on how we can better express our British identity, our Ulster identities and our pride in Northern Ireland.
The next few years will be a time of great change in the United Kingdom as our nation leaves the European Union. Some – especially those who said nothing during the campaign last year – want to use this election as a rerun of the referendum. We are not wasting our time refighting old battles. The people of the United Kingdom have spoken. Our job is to ensure that Northern Ireland’s voice is heard loudly and clearly in the negotiations and that, plain and simple, we get the best deal for Northern Ireland and seize the opportunities that the UK leaving the EU will offer.
Ladies and gentlemen, this Westminster election comes at a time of great importance for our country and for Northern Ireland. For the first time in decades, the powers of Parliament will grow. This growth means its importance to the lives of each and every one of us grows too. This makes it vital that we have a strong, united and clear voice to speak up for Northern Ireland.
We need a ‘Team Northern Ireland’ on the benches of Westminster.
In the previous parliamentary term, the DUP team used its influence, in public and private, for the benefit of people in Northern Ireland.
On 8th June, a vote for the DUP team is a vote to send ‘Team Northern Ireland’ to Westminster. It is a team that has real influence and experience in speaking up for the interests and needs of Northern Ireland. It is this team and this party that is working and delivering for all of the people of Northern Ireland.
At this election, we re-dedicate ourselves to doing it again.
We call on all unionists to unite behind the DUP. Those who voted in March. And to other unionists, we ask them to lend us their vote at this election so we can all make our support for the Union abundantly and unambiguously clear. Let us all join together and stand strong for Northern Ireland.