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Extracts from a Speech by Jeffrey Donaldson MP to the Annual Twelth Demonstration of the Belfast County Grand Orange Lodge, 12 July 2004

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Text: Jeffrey Donaldson ... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Extracts from a speech by Jeffrey Donaldson, then Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP, to the Annual Twelth Demonstration of the Belfast County Grand Orange Lodge, 12 July 2004


"I endorse the resolution passed today by Orangemen across Northern Ireland which contends that the voice of Unionism is stronger now and that we are determined to secure for ourselves and those who come after us a Northern Ireland which is peaceful and prosperous, well governed and much respected everywhere. We want to achieve a new agreement which will deliver such a future for all the people of Northern Ireland regardless of their political viewpoint, their religious affiliation or their social status.

That agreement must have at its heart the democratic principle that the way forward is built upon the firm foundation of an unequivocal commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means of resolving our problems. The new leadership of Unionism has made it clear in the negotiations now under way that we will not share power with those who have in place a fully armed and illegal ‘private army’. Such a situation would not be tolerated in London or in Dublin and it will not be tolerated in Belfast either.

At the recent talks in Lancaster House, London we persuaded our Government and the Irish Government that the issues that must be given top priority include "a definitive and conclusive end to all paramilitary activity; the decommissioning, through the IICD, of all paramilitary weapons, to an early timescale and on a convincing basis; a clear commitment on all sides to the stability of the political institutions and to any changes to their operation agreed within the Review; support for policing from all sides of the community, and on an agreed framework for the devolution of policing.

The focused nature of such an agenda clearly demonstrates the progress that the new Unionist leadership has made in turning the spotlight so clearly on the paramilitaries and on the need to finally tackle the real issues at the heart of the problem. Gone are the agendas which are nothing more than a Sinn Fein/IRA ‘wish list’. Gone is the endless train of concessions. Gone is the weak leadership with no bottom line. Gone are the fudge and the spin or as some have put it ‘the constructive ambiguity’ where words are twisted to mean something and nothing at one and the same time. Gone is the negative thinking which declared that the Belfast Agreement could not be changed and was somehow set in tablets of stone.

The statement by the Government after the talks made clear that change is now firmly on the agenda. We can therefore say with confidence that now is the hour of reckoning for the so called peace process and now is the time for change. We are committed to delivering that change and to securing a real and lasting peace for our people.

In September we will return to the table with a renewed determination to achieve a fair deal for Ulster. Make no mistake, we will be tough in our negotiating but we will be fair in seeking a resolution to the outstanding issues. However, and let us be clear about this, we need to see the IRA move with clarity and certainty to a definitive and conclusive end to all their paramilitary activity and to the completion within an early timescale and on a convincing basis of the decommissioning of all their paramilitary weapons.

The issue of Policing is also important and it is long past time when all sections of our community should give their full support to the Police. The Police have been weakened by the reduction in manpower and the demoralizing effect of the discriminatory recruitment policy. We want to see the retention of the Full-Time Reserve to ensure that the Police are able to deliver an effective response to the security situation and the rising levels of crime and we want to see a return to recruitment on the basis of merit alone. Equally, we will only agree to the devolution of Policing to the Assembly when we are convinced that the circumstances are right and that all who govern are fully committed to upholding the rule of law. There can be no question of those who are linked to a private terrorist army being involved in the administration of Policing and Justice.

Our bottom line in terms of forming a fully inclusive administration remains. We will not fall into the trap of sharing power with those linked to armed terror groups before they have completed the process of decommissioning and ended all their paramilitary activity. This time the IRA must jump first.

If we achieve completion on these key issues of decommissioning and paramilitarism, then Unionists will respond positively. We are willing to give clear commitments to ensure the long term stability of agreed political institutions on the basis of equality and fairness. We are prepared to work with others to build a society in Northern Ireland where tolerance and mutual respect are the key attitudes with which we mark out our relationships with each other.

How I long to see a summer where an Orangeman and his family can walk to the Twelfth and parade home without the threat of violence against them. How I long for a society which has been liberated from the fear and intimidation that has been purveyed by the paramilitary godfathers who have poisoned relationships within our community, ruining countless lives in the process and destroying trust in their efforts to build territorial domination.

The day of the paramilitaries is gone. It must be gone if we are to have real peace and lasting stability in our land."


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