Sir Jeffrey said,
“Over the next 20 days, we will see the Coronation of King Charles III and Northern Ireland will decide who leads our eleven local councils.
Whilst the King’s Coronation will have a global audience and see street parties across the UK, the Council elections will receive just a tiny fraction of the focus. There is however a serious need for everyone who believes in making Northern Ireland work to consider the impact of the Council election result.
There are people in London, Dublin, Washington and Brussels with their eyes focused on the DUP’s performance in this Council election. A victory will strengthen our hand to finish the job, but any other outcome will be used by the Government as an excuse to dither and delay.
In February 2021, we took a stand and withdrew our First Minister because we could see the foundations of powersharing were being eroded by the NI Protocol and the Government was failing to act.
The Protocol upset the delicate political balance in Northern Ireland and was not supported by the Unionist community.
When others said there would be no re-negotiation and no change, our determination has proved what can be achieved. By Unionism standing together, giving us the electoral strength, we were able to bring the European Union back to the table. That was an incredible achievement and should not be overlooked.
Whilst welcoming progress, we have carefully assessed the Windsor Framework and taken time to consult the wider public through the establishment of a panel to hear the views of stakeholders across Northern Ireland.
Having received the report from our Panel and assessed all elements of the Windsor Framework the Democratic Unionist Party has concluded that the Framework does not meet our seven tests as set out in our 2022 Assembly election manifesto.
Consequently, more work is required by the UK Government if we are to secure the necessary conditions for a return to the Northern Ireland Executive.
At this election, we are seeking support to finish the job and build the necessary solid foundations for a return of local accountable government at Stormont.
We want to see the restoration of the Assembly and Executive on the basis that democratic decision-making is in the hands of locally elected representatives rather than having no say over laws governing our economy and our people.
We want to see a return to the delicate political balance within Northern Ireland where the views of unionists are valued and respected and cross-community consensus is the way that we deliver stability and prosperity for all our people.
As Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party we have the ultimate responsibility of ensuring we get the right outcome that respects Northern Ireland’s place in the Union for the long-term.
The last election must act as a wake-up call for Unionists. Divided votes handed seats to the opponents of the Union. Some said the DUP would “weaken” after that election. It was a lie then and we are pledged to continue to stand firm after this election until we have properly secured and protected our place within the United Kingdom.
The DUP is the only unionist party large enough to challenge Sinn Fein.
On May 18th Unionists have a clear choice. They can back the Democratic Unionist Party candidates and strengthen our hand as we seek to finish the job of restoring Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom or unionism can divide and splinter, costing seats in our councils and gifting greater influence to those who would further weaken the Union.
Drawing together all the strands of people who are Pro-Union is not easy but the consequence of allowing unionism to continue fracturing will be a Northern Ireland led by Sinn Fein whose goal is to remove us from the United Kingdom.
Now is not the time for more division. Our goal has been and remains to strengthen the Pro-Union voice in Northern Ireland. Growing the support for our cause must be the on-going objective.
At this election vote to strengthen our hand and ensure Unionism speaks with a strong and united voice.”