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Speech by Ian Paisley (DUP) on the resumption of devolved government in Northern Ireland, (8 May 2007)

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Text: Ian Paisley... Page compiled: Martin Melaugh

Speech by Ian Paisley (DUP), then First Minister, on the resumption of devolved government in Northern Ireland, Stormont, Belfast, (8 May 2007)


"Prime Ministers, distinguished guests and all who are here, there are some words from Holy Scripture and it says, "we know not what a day may bring forth". If you had have told me some time ago that I'd be standing here to take this office, I would have been totally unbelieving. I'm here by the vote of the majority of the electorate of our beloved province. During the past few days I have listened to many very well placed people from outside Northern Ireland, seeking to emphasise the great contribution they claim to have made in bringing this all about. However, the real proof of the matter is rather different. If those same people had only allowed the Ulster people to settle the matter without their interference and insistence upon their way and their way alone, we would all have come to this day a lot earlier.

I well remember the night when the Belfast Agreement was signed I was wrongly arrested and locked up on the orders of the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Amazing to see some Secretaries of State and some ex-Secretary of State here today, it is a pleasant thing to see that they're not going to lock me up, that I have my freedom. It was only after the assistant chief of police intervened that I was released. On my release I was kicked and cursed by certain loyalists who supported the Belfast Agreement. But let me say today, very strongly, that was yesterday, this is today and tomorrow will be tomorrow.

Today at long last we are starting upon the road, I emphasise starting, which I believe will take us to lasting peace in our province. I have not changed my unionism, the union of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom which I believe is today stronger than ever, but we are making together a declaration, we're all aiming to build a Northern Ireland in which all can live together in peace, being equal under the law and equally subject to the law. I welcome the pledge we have all taken to that effect today, that is the rock foundation upon which we must build and we intend to build.

Today we salute Ulster's honoured and unaging dead, the innocent victims, the gallant band, members of both religions, Protestant and Roman Catholic strong in their allegiance to their differing political beliefs, unionist and nationalist, male and female, children and adult, all innocent victims of a terrible conflict. In the shadows of the evenings and in the sunrises of the mornings we hail their gallantry and heroism. It cannot and will not be erased from our memories, nor can we forget today those who continue to bear the scars of suffering and whose bodies have been robbed of sight, robbed of hearing, robbed of limbs, yes and we must all shed the silent and bitter tear for those whose loved ones have not yet been returned.

Let me read to you the words of Deirdre Spear, who lost her police officer father in the struggle.

Remember me, remember me, my sculptured glens where crystal rivers run, my purple mountains misty in the sun, my coastlines little changed since time begun, I gave you birth. Remember me, remember me, though battle scarred and weary I abide, when you speak of history say my name with pride, I am Ulster.
In politics as in life it is a truism that no-one can ever have one hundred per cent of what they desire. They must make a verdict when they believe they have achieved enough to move things forward, unlike at any other time I believe we can now move things forward. Winning support for all the institutions of policing has been a critical test that today has been met in pledged word and deed.

Recognising the significance of that change from a community that for decades demonstrated hostility for policing has been critical in Ulster turning the corner. I have sensed a great sigh of relief amongst all our people who want the hostility to be replaced with neighbourliness. The great King Solomon said,

to every thing there is a season, a time to every purpose under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, a time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away, a time to love and a time to hate, a time of war and a time of peace.
From the depths of my heart I can say to you today that I believe Northern Ireland has come to a time of peace. A time when hate will no longer rule. How good it will be to be part of a wonderful healing in this province. Today we have begun the work of plenty and we will all look for the great and blessed harvest."


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