25 November 2017
Speech by South Belfast MP Emma Little-Pengelly to the 2017 DUP Annual Conference
Party Chairman, Colleagues, Friends...
What an incredible pleasure it is to stand before you today as the first ever… Democratic Unionist Party… member of parliament… for South Belfast.
…and how sweeter that win – because Unionism regained this seat from Nationalism.
Conference – This was a victory for Unionism.
This was a victory for all those communities across South Belfast who mobilised together... and achieved, after 12 years, what many said was not possible.
It was those in South Belfast who decided to vote again for the first time in a long time –
those voting for the first time ever.
…and those who lent their vote to us, that helped secure the seat for Unionism.
And of course, those loyal supporters who come out election after election for this party.
We would not be here without you.
Your vote counted when it mattered the most...
…and I thank each and every one of you.
When I stood for election, I gave voters this promise...
vote for me... and I will not let you down.
I am committed to doing everything I can to make Northern Ireland a better place for all.
Since the election I have been working hard to be the strongest advocate for the interests of South Belfast and our province.
At this important time, when others, continue to run away...
it is the DUP that is standing strong, and speaking up for Northern Ireland.
When others are denying the people of Northern Ireland... their right to have their democratic voice heard in our local Assembly – it is the DUP that is making sure Northern Ireland has a voice.
I am deeply proud to be a Unionist – it is the political ideology of civil and religious liberty for all.
As the United Kingdom developed, it was our proud British values that tore through injustice across the world... forging a pathway of democracy and rights... and it was Unionism that cherished and nurtured those values.
It has been Unionism and Unionists who have the strong record on rights and respect.
I truly believe, that at the very heart of all we do, must be a determination to deliver for all and to make lives better for the people we serve.
Surrounded by the pessimism and lamenting of so many, it is the Democratic Unionist Party who is at the forefront of promoting our province, supporting our business and industry, working on getting the best deal for Northern Ireland and delivering for all.
It is the Democratic Unionist Party that has attracted, and continues to attract, those with a passion for building a brighter future, those with the talent, ability and optimism to make our vision a reality.
The DUP will never join with others in "talking down" our wee country – Northern Ireland has many incredible strengths...
· High skills
· A committed workforce
· Creativity and innovation
We have the brightest and the best.
We will do everything we can to support economic growth,
…and to create a strong and thriving Northern Ireland.
I know that this will take... much more... than simply words... but good ideas...
listening to people... showing leadership... and working work to find solutions through difficult problems.
The DUP is up for that challenge.
We have experienced so many dark days.
Through the worst of the violence, it was the Democratic Unionist Party who stood firm against terrorism – and we always will.
Terrorism was always wrong.
It was never justified.
While others shamefully celebrate and commemorate terrorists – this party stands firmly for democracy and behind the true heroes who fought against tyranny and for the rights of those who could not fight for themselves.
As a people... we have a proud history of standing up and protecting the rights of others.
Each and every generation of Ulster men and women have rallied to the call to fight oppression and for democracy... from trenches of the Somme... to the Fields of Flanders... from the Falklands to Afghanistan.
The rightful recognition should go to the brave men and women of our security forces that went out, night after night, to defend and serve all across the community...
Risking, and yes giving, their lives to protect and defend all against the scourge of terrorism.
The IRA murdered children... murdered women...
As an organisation it was the single biggest killer of both Catholics and Protestants
during the troubles.
Gerry – it was never a war.
When the political obituary of Gerry Adams is written, his legacy will not be the laughter of children, but the tears and sorrow of thousands of victims.
We will never forget. But... we must move forward.
We want to do so with hope.
The DUP is determined to build that better, brighter and stronger Northern Ireland for all.
We will move forward on a foundation of democracy, respect and truth – the principles
that form the very basis of our party, of Unionism and of our great United Kingdom.
There is an opportunity for all parties...
…to join with us and be part of a positive, optimistic vision for Northern Ireland.
To join with us, working together to navigate the challenges of growing our economy,
delivering public services and through significant events such as Brexit...
…to work with us to maximise the opportunities for all.
Our vision is based on respect, on working together, on putting delivery for people above narrow political agendas.
I am a Unionist through and through – a Unionist in my heart, but also with my head.
Unionism makes strong political and economic sense...
…a Northern Ireland nestled secure within our great union is by far the best position for industry, business, our young people and for our future.
Our vision for Northern Ireland is one where everyone is welcome...
...where we all respect each other and we are working together constructively.
I firmly believe it is Unionism that is the best way forward for all of us... with a devolved Government delivering for all within the Union that is one of the largest economies in the world.
The DUP is a party for everyone.
Our values, principles and policies set out a road map to make Northern Ireland work, succeed and excel.
As we head towards 100 years of Northern Ireland – it is our task to sell the incredible benefits of Unionism...
and our proud British values, to win new voters from right across the community.
Conference, what a 12 months we have experienced.
There have been times of difficulty.
But – if we continue to do right, if we hold firm – then we will endure.
We create and craft our policies, not through hate or through intolerance – but because of principle and genuine conviction.
In this year, there have also been times of great joy. We have much to reflect on... but also much to celebrate.
I am deeply proud, and deeply humbled to be part of this great party and to represent the DUP and the people of South Belfast on the green benches in the House of Commons...
...as we march towards a period of celebration of 100 years of Northern Ireland...
let us do so with hope... confidence... and optimism... for the future.