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'Making History or History Made?', Speech by Ian Paisley, then Leader of the DUP, to the Independent Orange Demonstration, 12 July 2006

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Text: Ian Paisley ... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

'Making History or History Made?', Speech by Ian Paisley, then Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to the Independent Orange Demonstration, Portrush, County Antrim, (12 July 2006)


"The 1st July this year, the ninetieth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, was a beautiful morning. The sunshine and the birdsong were plentiful, just as they were on the morning when our gallant boys and men went over the top for King and Country.

Their slaughter was outrageous but their gallantry was unparalleled in the history of war. They were Britain’s gallant soldiers for too short a time, but they became Britain’s gallant dead forever.

The cemeteries of the Somme Valley are uncanny and mystical. There is an atmosphere which cannot be defined, but which is felt by everyone with a heart of flesh.

The mystery of ten thousand times ten thousand deaths is the solemn environment of this valley of death into which our heroes ran. Here the last enemy of mankind fell on its prey. Mercy was not pleaded for and mercy was not given.

Irrespective of age, colour, class or creed, the king of terrors and the terror of kings cut its devastating sward. The ancient scythe-master was at his deadly work. How sharp the scythe! How excruciating the wounds! How indescribable the sorrow! How terrifying the cries! How everlasting the separation!

Lives never again to be lived! Limbs, organs and faculties never again to function! Homes never again to be united! Tomorrows never again to resemble the past todays!

Tragedy unmendable and unendable!

Man’s inhumanity to man - what darkness! Man’s gallantry to man - what light!

There was enacted at the Somme a history of gallantry at its highest and best. There were thousands of heroes who will be forever unnamed and unsung. Only the recipients of their bravery and sacrifice could sing their fearlessness and feeling, but alas, they abode not on earth to chronicle it.

The largest ever contingent from Ulster took part in the 90th Anniversary Commemorations. From all walks of Ulster’s life they came to pay tribute to Ulster’s gallant dead, and stand on the sacred soil of France, which reached out on that grievous battle-day and embraced our dead in its bosom. No wonder the poppies were refreshed with showers of loving tears.

Here young boys and able-bodied men, here mingled all classes, from the aristocracy to the lowest in the social measurement of man. All colours, all classes, all creeds, all beliefs and none, thronged together in that valley of slaughter.

No country, suffered more than this whole island of Ireland, and no locality of any country in the world suffered like loyal Ulster.

The cream of a whole generation was skimmed off by cruel war, leaving a vacuum, which could never be filled.

There are some lessons we in Ulster need to learn again about this world-shaking, century-shattering event.

I. Liberty can only be obtained at a stupendous price

That price is the irreplaceable coin of human bodies and blood.

Liberty cannot ever be bought cheaply. The price is high because the commodity is the most precious thing in all the earth.

The maze of history is a path that leads us past these marked places where humanity paid the highest price for their liberties. Let cowards and traitors be silent, and let the gallant purchasers of liberty stand forth.

That text of Holy Writ from the very lips of our Saviour Himself is most appropriate here. 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'

The liberty which Ulster enjoys was bought by the men of the 1st July 1916. It was a heavy price indeed. The price was nothing less and nothing more than the supreme sacrifice itself.

II. Liberty has to be maintained by paying the same awful price

The blood of dedication and sacrifice alone can maintain and retain for us the liberty, which the heroes of the Somme won for us and our children and our children’s children.

The liberty obtained must be maintained. That can only be if we walk the way our fathers walked."

[In unscripted comments Ian Paisley also also went on to say the following.]

"No unionist who is a unionist will go into partnership with IRA-Sinn Fein. They are not fit to be in partnership with decent people. They are not fit to be in the government of Northern Ireland. And it will be over our dead bodies that they will ever get there.

Ulster has surely learned that weak, pushover unionism is a half-way house to republicanism. There is no discharge in this war."

"Compromise, accommodation, and the least surrender are the road to final and irreversible disaster.

A continuing cost must be maintained. There can be no weakness, toleration, or capitulation. There is only one way we can walk, and it is the safe path of No Surrender to the enemy.

III. Finally, liberty must be retained

Our grip on liberty must be strong indeed. What we have we hold. To lessen our allegiance to our fathers’ faith is not only a betrayal of the past but also a betrayal of the future.

Our fathers’ sacrifices must be honoured, not diminished, and our children’s future must be strengthened, not weakened.

Let the trumpet be sounded! Let us all determine to do our duty, and with God’s help I will seek at all times to maintain the Union and the Faith of our fathers.

We will not be slaves to our ancient enemies. The collar of the slave and the manacles of the oppressed we will never wear.

What we want for ourselves we will not deny to others.

Ulster shall remain free. Its breath will be liberty and its crown will be peace.

God will indeed defend the right, and our right shall be our future."

"The Voice of Ulster

‘Tis the voice of Ulster calling from across the narrow sea;
Of Ulster waiting, watching, before the dark To Be.
‘Tis the voice of Ulster calling, in the crisis of her fate:
Will ye hear it, Oh my brothers, will ye hearken, ere too late?
‘Tis the voice of Ulster calling: it is borne upon the blast,
From the high-built walls of Derry, from the harbours of Belfast;
From the cornfields and the flaxfields, from the hills and shores and bays.
‘Tis the voice of Ulster calling, at the parting of the ways.
‘Tis the voice of Ulster calling; and her noble heart may bleed,
As she pictures all her labours made the prey of guile and greed,
And the clink of shipwright’s hammer and the whirring of the loom
Hushed for ever in the silence and the darkness of the tomb.
‘Tis the voice of Ulster calling, and the hand of Ulster too,
Holds on high the flag of England, bids it flutter to the blue.
Will you tear it from her fingers, will you drag the banner down,
And unfold instead the emblem of the Harp without the Crown?
‘Tis the voice of Ulster calling: but her heart is bold and high,
And ere she forfeit freedom ‘she will know the reason why.’
And, if her friends forsake her, and faith be false and fled,
Then the ‘Bloody Hand’ of Ulster may be dyed a deeper red.
‘Tis the voice of Ulster calling: shall her cry be all in vain?
Shall the Union bonds be broken and the One be henceforth Twain?
‘Tis the voice of Ulster calling, in the crisis of her fate:
Ye will hear it, oh, my brothers, ye will hearken ere too late."


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