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Extracts of a Speech by Ian Paisley to DUP Annual Conference, 1996

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

Text of extracts of a speech by Ian Paisley, then Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to the DUP's Annual Conference, in 1996.


"The Prime Minister has spoken but his method of speaking is strange in both manner and message.

In reply to a planted question by Mr Andrew Hunter MP in the House of Commons on Thursday last, Mr Major referred to the IRA/Sinn Fein/Adams SDLP/Hume proposals and informed the House that a paper had been made available in the Library.

This was a ploy to stifle debate on the subject and to keep Northern Ireland MPs from probing into the matter.

My two Parliamentary colleagues and myself met the Prime Minister afterwards and were able to question him most effectively about the matter.

The facts are startling and most solemn and serious. They point to more and more surrenders and concessions to the IRA and the terrorists.

It was announced in the Republican and Nationalist press that IRA/Sinn Fein, in agreement with John Hume, were requesting certain conditions.

The Secretary of State had already been playing footsie with IRA/Sinn Fein man McGuinness in a political puppet show, supposedly clarifying the Government's position, after it had been announced that the IRA could not use the word "permanent" to define any ceasefire, because that would breach the constitution of the Provisional IRA. Sir Patrick Mayhew made it clear that the Government was prepared to find a way so that the IRA would not have to breach its constitution but would be able, nevertheless, to enter the Talks. He talked about more ways than one of skinning the cat. I told him that the Government had no intention of killing the cat but rather were in the business of fattening and keeping the cat.

What were the IRA requesting, according to the Republican press?

  1. The renegotiation of the Union of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.
    In Mr Major's statement that is conceded. The Union is on the table even though the law of the land makes it clear that only by the vote of the people of Northern Ireland can the Union ever be broken. In reference to the Union the Prime Minister's statement says, I quote: "No negotiated outcome is either predetermined or excluded". So the law of the land does not predetermine the Union. It is up for grabs to the IRA. Of course, Her Majesty’s Government has already stated that it has "no selfish, strategic or economic interest in maintaining the Union" - Downing Street Declaration.
  2. Resumption of open meetings with the Government at various levels with IRA/Sinn Fein.
    Mr Major concedes that. Page three of his document: "Meetings with Slim Fein at various levels to explore with them what assurances can be given and what confidence-building measures established".
  3. A meeting between IRA/Sinn Fein and the two Governments.
    Mr Major concedes that. Page three of his document: "The British and Irish Governments would invite Sinn Fein to meet them together".
  4. An agreed time frame for Sinn Fein to get into Talks and for their duration.
    Mr Major concedes that. Page three of his document: "The two Governments would then propose bilateral and other consultations with all the parties including the issue of the participants adopting an agreed indicative time-frame for taking stock of their progress".
  5. Invitation to IRA/Sinn Fein to join the Talks.
    Mr Major concedes that. Page three of his document: "Following a successful conclusion of the process set out above, including due time for consideration, the two Governments would expect the independent chairmen to convene a plenary session for all participants with Sinn Fein invited formally to participate".
  6. Keeping up the pace.
    Mr Major concedes that. Page five of his document: "We have already proposed that a plenary meeting should be held in December to take stock of progress in the negotiations as a whole. The two Governments will also review progress at regular intervals. I will be meeting the Taoiseach on 9th December and the Secretary of State regularly meets the Tannaiste. Progress will be reviewed again by the end of May 1997."
  7. Confidence building measures.
    Mr Major concedes that. Page five of his document: "It is worth recalling that in response to the ceasefires of autumn 1994 and the changed level of threat we undertook a series of confidence building measures. These included changed arrangements for the release of prisoners in Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland Remission of Sentences Act 1995, security force redeployments, a review of emergency legislation and others. If the threat reduces again the opportunity for further confidence building measures returns."

Mr Major has gone back on his undertakings over and over again. His word is not his determined bond, it is rather his disposable baggage. The Daily Telegraph of 29th November, a day after his statement was issued in the Library of the House of Commons, editorialised thus:

"If IRA/Sinn Fein were allowed to enter the Talks on that basis they would be coming armed to the table ... Mr Hume's actions are based on the assumption that the Republicans must be appeased. We are not convinced after yesterday's events that the Government has entirely rejected that assumption either."

Mr Major is in the surrendering business to the IRA and its bedfellows John Hume, Dublin and the White House. Mr Major is in the capitulating business to the IRA. Mr Major is in the concession business to the IRA. Mr Major is in the deceiving business with the IRA. Mr Major is in the sell-out business to the IRA.

On behalf of the Unionist people I must tell him loudly and clearly that Ulster is not surrendering to the IRA or any of its allies. Ulster is not capitulating to the IRA. Ulster is not conceding to the IRA. Ulster is not selling out to the IRA. Ulster is not going down the Dublin road, not an inch.

We are determined to have no truck with the IRA whatsoever or with any other murdering gunmen.

Ulster deserves our prayers.

Its people deserve our endeavours. Its children deserve our sacrifice.

Its past deserves our gratitude.

Its present deserves our determination.

Its future deserves our dedication.

Its enemies deserve our resistance.

Its slanders deserve our condemnation.

Its would-be destroyers deserve our undying opposition."


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