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Speech by Ian Paisley to DUP Annual Conference, 2000

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

Text of a speech by Ian Paisley, then Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to the DUP's Annual Conference, 2000.

"I am proud to be an Ulsterman. I have no apology of any kind to make for my religion, my native province, my politics or my people.

"Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself has said,
'This is my own, my native land.'"

There are those who disclaim history and whose mouth is filled with "highfaluting" talk about facing the future.

I happen to believe that we can only face the future if we have knowledge and understanding of the past. For a nation to forget its history is for that nation to commit national suicide. History is a ploughed field upon which we can sow the seeds of our inquiries and its soil will bring to fruition the good and bountiful harvest of well-tested wisdom, a wisdom that both entreats and inspires. In the pages of Ulster's history we will find, time and time again the appearance of men and women who showed leadership in the Ulster way.

What is history?

Is it not really biographies, life-stories? – What stories! What lives! Yes, and it is in its biographies we find the life-blood of history.

The history of Ulster summonses from the past a whole line of leaders, both false and true. There is one thing undeniable, there has never been a shortage of would-be leaders in this Province.

Each age, each section of the community, each segment of the Ulster people, have produced such persons.

Advantaged by hindsight we have discernment and are able to sort out the good from the bad, the true from the sham, and true leadership from the false.

Two Leaders from the Past:

I want to take two renowned figures from Ulster's history and seek to discover from them Leadership the Ulster way.

One of these is Patrick, and the other the founding father of political Ulster, Lord Carson of Duncairn, popularly known as Sir Edward Carson.

Patrick's story is short, simple and sublime.

"When a youth, nay almost a boy, I was taken captive, before I know what I ought to avoid. Hence I blush today, and greatly fear to expose my unskilfulness, because, not being eloquent, I cannot express myself with clearness and brevity.

But after I had come to Ireland I daily used to feed cattle, and I prayed frequently during the day; the love of God and the fear of Him increased more and more, and faith became stronger, and the spirit was stirred: so that in one day I said about a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same; so that I used even to remain in the woods and in the mountain; before daylight I used to rise in prayer, through snow, through frost, through rain, and felt no harm; nor was there any slothfulness in me, as I now perceive, because the spirit was then fervent within me."

Patrick became the leader of Ulster, and indeed the apostle of the Christian Church in Ireland - (the Roman Church in Ireland was still some centuries away). Let it never be forgotten that Rome came to Ireland on the backs of the Norman invaders who had paid the Pope for the grant of Irish soil. Instead of arguing about Ireland's ills with Ulster Protestants, Nationalists and Republicans should be arguing with their newly-found English friends, the Blairs and the Hague's, the fellow architects of the notorious Belfast Surrender Agreement.

The temper of true steel is only proved in the furnace.

Like one of old, Patrick was chosen in the furnace of affliction. In the imprisonment of slavery Patrick was taught the application of Christian truth in his inmost soul. In the darkness he saw the Light of the World, which is Christ Himself, and he was transformed. His whole life was changed by devotion to God.

First Mark of True Leadership - Devotion to God

"And there indeed one night in my sleep, I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Thou fastest well, fasting so; thou shalt soon go to thy country'. And again, after a very short time, I heard a response saying to me, 'Behold thy ship is ready'. And it was not near, but perhaps two hundred miles away, and I never had been there, nor was I acquainted with any of the men there. "After this I took flight, and left the man with whom I had been six years, and I came in the strength of the Lord, who directed my way for good; and I feared nothing till I arrived at that ship. And on that same day on which I arrived, the ship moved out of its place, and I asked them (the sailors) that I might go away and sail with them. And it displeased the captain and he answered sharply with indignation, 'Do not by any means seek to go with us'.

And when I heard this, I separated myself from them in order to go to the hut where I lodged. And on the way I began to pray, and before I had ended my prayer I heard one of them calling loudly after me, 'Come quickly, for these men are calling you'. And immediately I returned to them, and they began to say to me, 'Come, for we receive you in good faith, make friendship with us in whatever way you wish'. And in that day I accordingly disdained to make friendship with them, on account of the fear of God.

But in very deed I hoped of them that they would come into the faith of Jesus Christ, because they were heathen and on account of this I clave to them. And we sailed immediately."

Let us learn that it is devotion to the Eternal God which will make us good servants of His creatures.

Ulster-Scots were brought up on porridge and the Shorter Catechism. The first question of that Scriptural manual is: 'What is man's chief end?’ Its answer is simple: 'To glorify God and enjoy Him for ever'. It is that truth which shapes a man or woman for leadership in society of any age in this world of ours.

Rejection of God is rejection of all true and lasting enjoyment in this world and in the world to come.

Devotion to God is the foundation of effective leadership.

A person devoted to God will not lie, will not dissemble, will not act dishonestly, will not cheat, will not act dishonourably.

The Israelite King Jehu said of the two heaps of the heads of the slain sons of the wicked King Ahab, 'Who slew all these?' The political world today has many heaps of found-out lies.

Well may we ask 'From whose lips did these come?' The answer is written in the columns of the record. The dark fact stares us in the face. What has man by his word?

Mr Sam Foster is now the great apologist for IRA/Sinn Fein in the Executive. He castigates the DUP at every turn. His Orange collarette has been transubstantiated into a green Hibernian one. Hear him in the Assembly on 15th December 1998:

"We are talking about setting bodies and Departments - that is ridiculous before decommissioning. We are being asked to set up a Government in spite of the fact that we know that, outside in the undergrowth, there are weapons and equipment ready to be used - a gun-to-the-head attitude. Is that what we are being asked to do? Are we being asked to govern in spite of the fact that there are illegal armies and equipment out there?”

“Mr. Presiding Officer, do you really feel that you could preside over a Government? Would it be credible or incredible? Would it be dishonest or honest? Would it be deceit or falsehood or a lack of integrity? Are there no morals whatsoever?”

When will they learn that they cannot fool all the people all the time?

Patrick was stamped with another mark of true leadership, Dedication to the Task. Leadership can know no discharge from its yoke. It knows nothing of stops and starts. Its seal is constancy.

Nothing can halt the process or in any way stop the momentum of the programme in hand. The leader conquers the obstacles, he does not for a moment allow them to conquer him. We should always remember that the temper of a person's character is known by what it takes to stop him.

Third Characteristic of Leadership - Determination.

"But you know how much I paid to those who acted as judges throughout all the regions which I more frequently visited. For I think that I distributed among them not less than the hire of fifteen men. So that you might enjoy me and I may always enjoy you in the Lord, I do not regret it, nor is it enough for me - I still spend and will spend for your souls. God is mighty, and may He grant to me that in future I may spend myself for your souls. Behold, I call God to witness upon my soul that I lie not, neither that you may have occasion, for because I hope for honour from any man. Sufficient to me is honour which is not belied. But I see now that I am exalted by the Lord above measure in the present age; and I was not worthy, nor deserving that He should aid me in this, since I know that poverty and calamity suit me better than riches and luxuries. But Christ the Lord was poor for us.

"But I, poor and miserable, even if I wished for riches yet have them not, neither do I judge my own self, because I daily expect either murder or to be circumvented, or to be reduced to slavery, or mishap of some kind. But I fear none of these things, on account of the promises of the heavens: for I have cast myself into the hands of the Omnipotent God, who rules everywhere, as saith the prophet, 'Cast thy thought on the Lord and He will sustain thee'."

The obstacles placed in our way by the Pan-Nationalist Front - which now includes the Government and Opposition Parties in Westminster - we must make our means a triumph, not a scourge, whipping us into capitulation. This was demonstrated in the South Antrim By- Election. There the obstacles were faced up to and with dedication miraculously overcome. The unbelief of those who thought the seat was unwinnable was shown to be unfounded.

When I was a lad at school I learned a poem which epitomises this simple truth:

'Strike the nail aright, boys, Hit it on the head. Strike with all you might, boys, When the iron is red. When there's work to do, boys, Do it with a will. Those who reach the top, boys, First must climb the hill.'

There are hot irons all around us. Let us seize the hammer of dedication and strike them hard. There is a tremendous task before us. Let us face it with all the willpower it is humanly possible to muster. A very steep hill is before us. Let us determine to conquer it. To do so we must climb and climb and climb. The Hill Difficulty can be conquered but not without total commitment. If we allow ourselves to be beaten we have only ourselves to blame. Our failures must be turned into stepping-stones of success.

Dedication which refuses to be exhausted, which spurns all easy ways of compromise, which refuses to change its goals and settle for second best is the dedication which in the end will have the last laugh at impossibilities, and will finally cry triumphantly, "We have reached the tip!"

Patrick the slave-boy had it.

There is no reason why we too cannot share its blessing if we pay the price. It cannot be obtained on the cheap.

Fourth Characteristic of Leadership - Demands Readily Met.

"During this time I gave presents to the kings; besides which I gave pay to their sons who escorted me; and nevertheless they seized me, together with my companions. And on that day they eagerly desired to kill me; but the time had not yet come. And they seized all the things that they found with us, and they also bound me with iron. And on the fourteenth day the Lord set me free from their power; and whatever was ours was restored to us, for God’s' sake, and the attached friends whom we had before provided."

What demands were made of the slave-boy Patrick as he grew both in age and in work. The demands in sacrifice were colossal, but Patrick determined whatever the sacrifice he would make it. That became his guiding star throughout his life, not what he could get but what he could give. That must be the attitude of us all. Not what my country can give me, but what can I give to my country.

Search your heart. Have you this Devotion? Have you this Dedication? Have you this Determination? Have you this Spirit of Sacrifice? If you have not, you cannot win. Does not Ulster deserve our unstinted allegiance?

Let us turn now to the consideration of the leadership qualities of Sir Edward Carson.

"Edward Carson was a giant among men. Not only did he dominate them physically, standing out head and shoulders in the common throng of mankind, but he possessed in an exceptional degree qualities of character which set him apart from his fellows. Courage, perseverance and kindness of heart - these were the characteristics stamping his peculiar genius. He was a valiant man. He was also a stayer. His experience in the affairs of life was that so few were able to finish the race, 'run the last hundred yards', as he put it. He could and did so. Kindly and understanding, Carson was the soul of honour in all his dealings. He hated injustice and disloyalty." (Sir Douglas Hyde's 'Life of Carson')

First Characteristic of Leadership - Unassailable Conviction

The drive behind Carson's leadership was first, unassailable convictions. Carson had settled in his mind and heart and soul that the best for Ireland, his native land, was union with the rest of the British Isles.

He knew the mind of his fellow-countrymen and women, both Nationalist and Unionist, and he knew the land of his birth. He saw that the best days for his country was when the Union was strengthened and London rejected the voices of Irish chaff and accepted the voices of Irish wheat, and ruled with fairness and firmness.

History records that the best years were when there was firm Tory government from London. Once Carson's convictions were settled there was no changing them. His were not ready-mixed pragmatic convictions which came and went as the popular political weathervane changed its direction. He never contemplated their doctoring or altering.

He was Luther-like - 'Here I take my stand; I can do naught else, God helping me.' His enemies knew his fixed purpose and his friends learned it in a bitter school. Many of them were fair-weather colleagues only.

The day of debate Carson saw was past, and the day for the battle had come. Let me mention one instance from the gun-running.

"In the beginning of February 1914 Crawford was in London on his way to Germany. Although he had the authority of James Craig and his Committee to accept the offer of arms, he suspected that some of the members had little liking for the business, and it was partly to get the support and countenance of their leader that Crawford paid a call on Sir Edward Carson at 5 Eaton Place.

"Crawford has given his own account of that strange interview between the gun-runner and the statesman, at that time engaged in vain negotiation with the Prime Minister. Each was serving the cause of the Union after his own fashion, and it may have seemed to Carson that Crawford's way was the more hopeful.

"Crawford told his leader that as far as he was concerned, once in Hamburg, he was committed: there could be no turning back; he would accept no cancellation, and he asked Carson if he was willing to back him to the end.

"'We were alone', Crawford reports. 'Sir Edward was sitting opposite to me. When I had finished, his face was stern and grim;... he rose to his full height, looking me in the eye; he advanced to where I was sitting and stared down at me, shook his clenched fist in my face and said in a steady determined voice which thrilled me ...'Crawford, I'll see you through this business if I should have to go to prison for it'.

"'I rose from my chair. I held out my hand and said: 'Sir Edward, that is all I want. I leave tonight; good-bye.'"

Place Mr Trimble and his fellow-travellers with IRA/Sinn Fein beside our founding father. What miserable, despicable characters they are. Before the words of Unionist allegiance are scarcely uttered, they are wheeling and dealing with the murderous pact of IRA gangsters in Stormont. If they want to stop IRA/Sinn Fein in Government they only need to do a simple thing - say goodbye to their love-in with IRA/Sinn Fein in the Executive. Quit playing Sinn Fein representatives on the North/South Council of Ministers, but his office pays for what are illegal meetings of that body from which he banned them! And now for their law-suit against the Government!

What, Mr Trimble, of the two other Nationalist Front delegations - Dublin and the SDLP? Mr Trimble has preached unceasingly the value of the North/South bodies. Why suddenly does he find them so dangerous? But, wait for it, he says he is now teetering on the verge of reconsideration!

The people of Ulster know that the British Government has him in its straight-jacket. He is not a free agent. He negotiates as a man with a knife in his back. Many of us would like to know when and where it was manufactured and whose hands hold its handle. Official Unionist leaders are dispensable commodities with Westminster governments, who by fair means or foul, can have them removed. They laud them as they sell out them and then destroy them when they are of no further use in their scheme.

Second Characteristic of Leadership - Unquenching Constancy.

What Carson could not stand was the action of those who were prepared to throw all their past commitment away because it suited them, irrespective of the terrible harvest that others would reap.

"I only came into public life because I cared for my fellow-Loyalists in Ireland. I went through my public life doing my best for them, and I saw them in the end betrayed; but at all events betrayed under the pretext that certain safeguards were provided. Now I have lived to see every one of these safeguards absolutely set at naught and made useless. That is not a pleasant political career. I belong, I believe, to what is called the Unionist Party. Why it is called the Unionist Party I fail to understand unless it is to remind people in this country that it was the Party that betrayed the Unionists.

"...Now they propose to abolish what I think is the last of the safeguards. The Oath is gone, the Veto of the King is gone, the Representative of the King is subordinate - he is gone. They are all gone, and now they are to abolish - it has in fact been abolished for a long time - the only remaining safeguard which was so flaunted in our faces... Every single promise we have made to the Loyalists in Ireland has been broken, every pledge of law and order destroyed, everything that makes life and property safe has gone, and now the last remnant is to be taken away."

Carson hated unfaithfulness and then the whitewashing of lies which accompanied it.

How low can men sink in order to mind the all-important Number One?

How can a party leader be trusted who has lied and lied and lied again and destroyed the integrity of the unionist people and the constitution of our Province?

In the name of the people, I indict him and those backing him with their votes in the Assembly and elsewhere, of successive acts of the gravest treachery.

I am in a position to indict him, and well he knows it. I have behind me five elections in a row, all-Ulster elections. I do not forget the frantic efforts which he made to keep the dreaded name of Paisley off the ballot paper in the Forum elections. I remember too those who were his colleagues in Westminster who supported John Hume's name to appear but made a deal with the rotten Tory government not to allow my name to appear.

Here I stand this day with a renewed mandate from the majority of the Unionists of Ulster and I solemnly indict the prime doer of treachery in this Province.

Trimble's Treachery - here are his promises

‘The Union is Strengthened’; 'No Unreformed Terrorists in Government'; 'Unionists will have a veto'; 'The Agreement is the death of Frameworks'; ‘Eire's Territorial Claim will be surrendered'; 'Maryfield will go'; 'No United Ireland'; 'This is no Sunningdale'; 'There is No Licence to Terrorists'; 'The RUC has been saved'.

'I will pull the plug on the talks unless the IRA decommission right away' - 6th June 1996. In the Assembly he claimed he had not made representations to the US administration about the censoring of information about the IRA arms running from Florida. The next day he had to return to the Assembly and withdraw his remarks because they were not only misleading but untruthful.

The Bottom Line:

'The new Agreement provides an end to the Anglo-Irish Agreement and Maryfield.' 'It has provided an Assembly. The territorial claim of the Republic will go.' 'The Act of Union stays.' 'Any North/South co-operation will be under the control of the Assembly.' 'The UUP has obtained a Council of the Isles which brings the Republic into the British Isles family of regions and nations.' 'The Agreement will be good for the economy.' 'Any prisoners released will be on licence and will go back to prison if they offend.' 'The Union is safer than it has been since 1985."

'I have a message for Unionists: the bulk of the pain is behind us' - David Trimble, 6th October 2000.

David Trimble, I Indict You.

In the name of Ulster's honoured dead, I indict you.

In the name of the majority of Unionists, I indict you.

In the name of the anguished bereaved, I indict you.

In the name of those who trusted you and discovered, after the Referendum, your hellish treachery, I indict you.

This day I say ‘David Trimble, in God's name go before you bring any more sacrifice, sorrow and shame to the people of this Province.’

There is one thing the people of this Province are not going to give you - the right to force us under the jackboot of the Dublin Rule of corruption and fascism. We were born free, and by God's help we will remain free.

Third Characteristic of Leadership - Faith to the End.

The faith which Carson imbibed from his mother in his early days, which supported him in the most wearisome and cruel days when he stood in the breach for the Union, was also his stay when he came to die.

"At the beginning of June 1935, Carson caught bronchial pneumonia. To this attack it seemed that he must succumb, but he put up a vigorous fight, as ever, and eventually pulled through. Among those who visited his sick-room was Dr. Charles D'Arcy, the Protestant Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. 'I have seen much to shake my faith', said the invalid to him, 'and what remains with me is no more than I learned at my mother's knee: 'God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...' 'It is enough', said the Primate."

A fierce and most bitter battle is before us. Unionism needs to recover its roots and return to its well tried traditions. The unity of Unionism can only be found on the definitive platform of traditional Unionism. The downgrade to a United Ireland must at all costs be stopped. The coming election will give us a democratic platform to take on the enemies. That election will be our destiny-deciding hour. The battle can only be won with God's help and with careful preparation.

In view of the strong united position of the Pan-Nationalist Front, with the SDLP in the pocket of IRA/Sinn Fein and with Tony Blair prepared to sell out even the very security of our Province to retain his tattered world influence, every right-thinking unionist who cherished their heritage must take stock of the critical position in which they find themselves.

The first duty is for us all to know exactly what our basic unionist principles are. I list an essential ten:

  1. The maintenance of Northern Ireland as an undiluted integral part of the United Kingdom.
  2. That the Principles of democracy as practised elsewhere in the Kingdom be applied in the same way throughout Northern Ireland.
  3. That the con-dominion status of Northern Ireland as a lackey of Dublin should forthwith cease. The internal affairs of Northern Ireland should be solely the responsibility of the Northern Ire land people, as in the Scottish devolution. Recently the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly handed out to all parties a paper indicating what action the NI Assembly should take on the death of the person named by the Speaker as `the President of Ireland', and on the death of the `Prime Minister of Ireland', upgrading them to the plane of equality with the Queen and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. If this is not con-do minion status nothing else could be.
  4. No executive powers should be vested in any body dominated by the Republic's representatives.
  5. No representatives of any group which maintains illegal and terrorist weapon arsenals should be in the Government of Northern Ireland.
  6. As long as the terrorists carry out their campaign there should be no dismantling or diluting of the RUC either in name, numbers, uniforms or structures.
  7. All who have suffered at the hands of terrorists should be adequately compensated, with all handouts open or covered, to terrorist groups to cease forthwith.
  8. Interference with the flying of the Union Flag as it flies in the rest of the United Kingdom, should cease. This must also apply to the displays of the Monarch's portrait and Remembrance Day activities.
  9. All protocol regulations should apply to the Irish Republic as a foreign power, as applied to all other nation states in the European Union.
  10. Elections should be free and not postponed or the ballot papers rigged to give advantage to any section of the population. All basic common civil rights should be honoured in reference to parades, etc. These basic principles, which are enshrined in all the nations in the European Union should be part of the practice in Northern Ireland.

Traditional unionists should come together and affirm agreement on these common principles and on other essentials, joining in common purpose and action to achieve them. The foundations upon which Ulster must build must be rock solid, not the sinking sands of the Belfast Treachery Agreement. The fact of the matter is that the Belfast Agreement advocates are set to destroy democracy.

The sooner a Pan-Unionist Front is forged, the better for everyone in this Province.

Agreement on principles comes first, then agreement on policy to achieve these principles, must follow.

Time is of the essence."


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