Together We Will Succeed

Below is a letter published in today's Belfast News Letter by DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP.

Dear sir,

I refer to the Morning View (1 Nov) headline “Few Unionists will see victory in a Stormont return”. It is a long time since I have read such a defeatist and negative editorial.

Support for the Union was at its highest in Northern Ireland when we had fully functioning devolution. In a Northern Ireland that is changing, unionists need to broaden support for the Union, and this will not be achieved by retreating to the narrow ground implicit in the editorial.

Stable devolution laid the foundations for further peace and prosperity. It allowed us to change the image of Northern Ireland and to open our doors to the world, attracting new hi-tech businesses, many of whom have re-invested again and again. I still believe in devolved government.

In February 2022, we began a phased withdrawal from devolved government by withdrawing our First Minister from office because for a number of years we had been raising our objections to the NI Protocol, but Brussels was ignoring our concerns. Indeed, the Alliance Party, Sinn Fein and the SDLP said the solution was to “rigorously implement” the Protocol rather than listen to our concerns.

Time and again, Westminster has imposed laws upon us that are not in tune with the needs or wishes of the people of Northern Ireland. You cannot on the one hand repeatedly condemn successive Governments for letting us down and then argue with credibility that we are better off in Direct Rule from Westminster.

The strength of the Union is in the way that it accommodates the diversity of its constituent parts. Northern Ireland is a distinct place with its own sense of identity and values. Having no say in our future will not be a recipe for success.

Our system of government is far from perfect and when it returns, we must collectively dedicate ourselves to ensuring – even when it is difficult – that decisions are taken that make a real difference to the lives of the people we represent.

Whilst your Editorial seems to concede defeat, we did not enter these negotiations to fail. We are continuing to work for arrangements that unionists as well as nationalists can support.

We have a record of saying yes, and leading from the front, when it’s right to do so. Equally, we will not be afraid to say no if we conclude that what is on offer does not adequately deal with our fundamental concerns and is not in the best long-term interests of our place in the Union.

Yours faithfully,

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP

DUP Leader

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