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Speech by Ian Paisley to DUP Annual Conference, 4 February 2006

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Text: Ian Paisley ... Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh [6 Feb 2006]

Text of a speech by Ian Paisley, then Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to the DUP's Annual Conference in Belfast, (Saturday 4 February 2006).


"This is the 35th Anniversary of the birth of the Ulster Democratic Unionist Party.  As I look back over those stormy 35 years, I am reminded of some lines of Shakespeare, and I would make them my own.  They briefly set out my sentiments.

‘Let come what will, I mean to bear it out,
And either live with glorious victory
Or die with fame, renown’d in chivalry.
He is not worthy of the honeycomb
That shuns the hive because the bees have stings.’

During the past 35 years we have certainly learned that the bees have stings.  We have been stung on many occasions by journalistic bees, by broadcasting bees, by political bees, by ecclesiastical bees, by government bees and swarms of others, yet we have survived to enjoy the honey.  The stings have turned to sweetness, the pain to pleasure, and adversity to victory.

I can say for myself and for my Party, we have not shunned the hive because these bees have stings.  Guided by my memory, let me take you to what was the once premier hotel in Belfast, The Grand Central Hotel, Royal Avenue.  It was the last night of the Hotel’s long history.  It closed down that night for ever.  Things in our Province had taken a terrible turn into the dark pit of bloodthirsty republican terrorism.
In an upstairs room the United Unionist Alliance was having a meeting, and the leaders of the three Unionist Parties – the Official Unionist, the Vanguard Unionist, and the Protestant Unionist, and members of the loyal Orders were present.   Mr Desmond Boal, QC MP, presided.  Mr Bill Craig, Mr Harry West and I represented our Parties.

The business on the table was whether or not there should be a new Unionist Party.  At the end of the meeting there was an overwhelming majority that such a Party should be launched.  Only the Protestant Unionists and some members of the Loyal Orders carried out their pledge; the others reneged.

That night the IRA blew up a Public House on the Shankill Road and committed more murders.  Outside, amidst the wreckage, I announced the decision that was taken earlier that night.  The Democratic Unionist Party was born in conflict, and unlike others, will never surrender to Ulster’s enemies.  When I say that, I say what we mean and we mean what we say.  There can be no compromise, because compromise on the vital issue of democracy is surrender.  Surrender Never to the IRA/Sinn Fein murderers!

We say to our Government, ‘Away with double-talk and falsehood.  Act upon your promises of refusing a place in any government to terrorist criminals.  You cannot deceive the unionist people any longer.  In your programme you will read the highlights of our steady progress towards our present position of being the largest political party in Northern Ireland.  But let us leap over the years and come to this day and the situation now.  If ever the eternal truth was vindicated,  it was vindicated in the past few hours. ‘The hidden things of darkness were brought to light.’   Evil cannot be covered. 

Falsehood will be uncovered.  Government spinning cannot destroy the truth.  Downing Street drugs cannot kill; Northern Ireland Office inoculations cannot succeed.  The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth can immunise lovers of truth from the big lie.

When I look back over the last month I see the mighty host of forces intent on pushing down the throats of the Ulster people the blatant lie that the IRA has decommissioned all its weapons.  That falsehood was so blatant even Lord Haw-Haw would have blushed to utter it.  How could those white-washing the IRA murderers be so arrogant!  Who could tell how many weapons the IRA had in the first place, when no inventory was revealed or made?  If all were decommissioned why did the IRA fear total transparency?

The rage of Maginnes and Adams shows that the DUP hit the bull’s eye, and the bells rang.  But it seems that Maginnes is interested at the moment in another part of the bull!  Ah, M and A, Murderous and Aphanite, you are both caught on and caught out.

The publication of the IMC  and the IICD reports have illuminated the activities and evil deeds of the IRA and the so-called loyalist groups.  Isn’t it interesting that the very bodies set up by the Government have highlighted that Government’s spin and lying.

The Government has been telling us that the ongoing IRA reign of terror is being carried out without the knowledge of  Sinn Fein/IRA leadership.  The IMC report states clearly that these activities are ‘authorised by the leadership’ and ‘involves some very senior members.’  This report also states that serious organised crime involves members and former member of the PIRA, and that senior members are involved in money laundering and other crime.  This terrorism and criminality goes right to the very top!

The IRA continues its intelligence gathering and directing its spying at furthering its political strategy, yet they expect us to believe that they are committed to democratic means alone. Their continuing targeting of ‘public and other institutions’ should surely be a warning to the Government that the reinstating of Sinn Fein allowances is nothing short of pure folly. 

The comment of IICD is very revealing.  No wonder the Prime Minister did not want to listen to me reading it in the House of Commons on Wednesday last.  It is now clear that the Commission was misinformed and made a misjudgment.  The statement makes it clear that they were prepared to accept the report of the Police in the South and their intelligence from IRA sources, and the reports from the Police in Northern Ireland were not even asked for!

If we are to make political progress the Government must face reality.  We want to enjoy lasting stability and prosperity in Northern Ireland.  It is IRA/Sinn Fein who are blocking the path to peace because they refuse to commit to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.
I am a devolutionist.  My Party has always been a strong advocate of devolution. Ulstermen and women making decisions for Ulster people, is the best way forward. 

Our proposals paper sets out a number of alternative ways to move forward.  It outlines a system which shows the way to stable and efficient government.  I have said on numerous occasions that I will talk to and listen to other democratic parties in any talks process.  Both the British and Irish governments must also play their part by delivering fairness and equality to Unionists.  Both governments must accept that Unionists will not be forced back into the failed structures of the Belfast Agreement.  Bertie Ahern, your writ does not run here in loyal Ulster.

We want accountable structures, and friendly, not threatening, relations with our neighbour. The Irish Government must stop insisting that Sinn Fein is fit for government here but not acceptable in Dublin. The message to Dublin must be if the IRA is not acceptable to you they cannot be forced on us.  The message must be crystal clear.  The IRA must be packed off for good.

The President of the Irish Republic who refuses to enter a police station in Northern Ireland should respect the police of Northern Ireland.  She should only enter Northern Ireland under the same terms as every other visiting head of state and she should cease attacking Northern Ireland. To those who say we will not work with our Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen, let me say that we will work with all democrats, regardless of where they come from, but we will have no truck with those who pursue terror and criminality.
There are challenges to be faced in the coming days.  We will not shrink from our duties and responsibilities and look forward with renewed confidence to a better day when we will see real peace and democracy restored to our beloved Province.

Down through the years I have always endeavoured to be honest and straightforward with the Ulster people.  I do not need to emphasise that they can all rest assured that I will be speaking on their behalf in the forthcoming talks.  I will be firm but fair. 
This is the last chance to get things right.  Whatever time it
takes we must take it.   IRA/Sinn Fein has taken years.  Unionists must take time to deal with such a far-reaching decision.


We must go forward in faith.  Faith in Almighty God.  Ulster’s battle-hymn is:

O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come;
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal Home.

Only such faith, grounded on the Word of God and faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God, the only Saviour of men, will enable us to pull through.   All other ground is sinking sand. We will not and cannot and must not foreswear the faith of our fathers. God’s unshakeable and unbreakable promise is ‘Those that honour Me I will honour.’

Our belief is the source of our behaviour.  We apologise to no one for the public declaration of our faith.


We must go forward in strength.  That strength must be imparted.  We are weaklings in and of ourselves.  Dependence on the power of God outside of ourselves is the only strength.  This comes by prayer.  Remember the way our nation prayed and the Dunkirk miracle took place. 

In the Battle of Britain our nation prayed and we were miraculously delivered from the threatened invasion.  In the battle of Europe our nation prayed and the miracle of the Normandy landings took place.


We must go forward in determination.   We have a task to accomplish and we must accomplish it.  This is not the time for inactivity.  This is the time for action.  This is a time for sacrifice.  This is the time to break sweat.  This is the time to determine we will finish the job.  This is not the time to engage in answering the low jibes cast at us by those who have betrayed unionism.  Leave them to sink in the bog of their own creation.  Our founding father, Lord Carson of Duncairn, in the toughest days of Home Rule Resistance, said:

‘I know the responsibility you are putting upon me today.  Grave as it is, I cheerfully accept it.’

Then, with gathering emphasis, every word reverberating in the hearts of his hearers, slowly and solemnly he proceeded:

‘I now enter into a compact with you, and every one of you, and with the help of God you and I joined together, I giving you the best I can, and you giving  me all your strength behind me, we will yet defeat the most nefarious conspiracy that has ever been hatched against a free people.’

‘You realise the gravity of the situation that is before us…You are here in this fight to the finish.

‘We ask for nothing more; we will take nothing less.  It is our inalienable right as citizens of the United Kingdom, and heaven help the men who try to take it from us.’

Our fathers resisted this plan of the betrayal of Ulster before, and they won.  We too can win the battle for our heritage. Since our last conference in this venue our Party has continued to provide the strong and decisive leadership that is expected from Ulster’s largest political party.  Our representation in local government, by our Assembly team, in Westminster and in Europe, is unmatched.  We can truthfully say to our electorate that we are going forward in strength.

Through the darkest days of our Province’s recent history we maintained our principles and integrity in the face of all the attacks mounted against us.  We will not deviate from our adherence to traditional unionist principles, and will continue to build upon this rock.

We say to all our enemies, You cannot buy us.  You cannot bribe us.  You cannot break us.  You cannot beat us.  All around the world today the United States and the United Kingdom are busy spreading the message of democratic values.  I support them in their endeavours; indeed I welcome it.  But I say to Mr Blair and Mr Bush that Northern Ireland will not settle for second best.  We will not accept terrorists in our government.  Those engaged in terror and organised crime are terrorists and must be treated accordingly. I say, as we have joined you in your battle, if you are honest you must join us in our battle.  You cannot be anti-terrorist in the whole world with the exception of Northern Ireland.  There will be no inclusive Executive with Sinn Fein as long as the IRA is in business and engaged in criminality.  The day for the inclusive Executive on such a basis is over for ever.  It is buried in a Sadducee’s grave from which there is no resurrection.  The foundation of the Agreement stinks in the grave, dug with the spade of truth.

I count it a privilege to be the leader of unionism.  I thank the Ulster people for their continued support and loyalty, and I pledge myself to continue to work unceasingly on their behalf.

The DUP has never been stronger.  In the coming days, with God’s help we can grow even stronger and even more determined to restore to our land the peace and prosperity which has been filched from us.

We can help to make this Ulster’s finest hour, and may God defend the right.

God bless you all."


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