Below are some photographs from the evening. More will be uploaded soon.
“Prior to the DUP becoming the largest political party in Northern Ireland and consequently negotiating for unionists, we were told there were only two options available for the province: Belfast Agreement devolution or direct rule. Neither of these prospects were to unionism’s advantage. Since 2003 the DUP has crafted, pursued and delivered a third way.
We have always believed devolution was important but an Executive couldn’t include parties associated with still armed and active paramilitary organisations, or unaccountable and uncontrollable Ministers. Equally direct rule with an expanding role for Dublin was entirely unacceptable to unionists. It was bad enough in 1985, without becoming even greener. Those who imagine direct rule is the way forward for Northern Ireland are naïve in the extreme. It was imperative that unionists secured control over the province’s affairs.
Recent developments regarding academic selection are further evidence that devolution today is fundamentally different to the failed Trimble-Empey version attempted intermittently between 1999 and 2002. Slowly but surely it is dawning on those who resisted it most that now it the Executive which is in charge not disparate Ministers acting to their own narrow party political agenda.
While we still have more we want to achieve and are working to deliver a more normal and leaner form of government to replace the current temporary but necessary arrangements, our key goal of securing the Union has been accomplished and the threat of a united Ireland recedes further with every passing day of Stormont rule.”
Chairman – Thomas Hogg
Deputy Chairman – Andrew Charles B.A.
Secretary – Ian Gow
Chief Whip – Kirsty Bell
Events Secretary – Dean McSorley
Treasurer – Stephen Dunne
Press Officer – Ben Mallon
Chaplain – Nathan Anderson
Honorary life membership was also confered on Richard Wright, Sharon Simpson, Gavin Robinson and Rhonda Milligan.
“I want to congratulate Peter and Nigel on their respective new roles. There is great responsibility in leading the largest political party in Northern Ireland but I have full confidence that the new leadership team will lead the DUP on to many successes in the future.
Having delivered stable government to Northern Ireland I believe the Investment Conference is another great milestone with the ability to deliver long-term economic stability in the Province. As I have already stated, I plan to step down after the Conference in the knowledge that Northern Ireland is facing a more prosperous future than ever before.”
In a joint statement Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds said,
“We are deeply honoured that the DUP Assembly Group and the Executive delegates have trusted us with the responsibility to lead the Party.
We want to pay tribute to Dr Paisley and the sterling service which he has given. The DUP and Northern Ireland owe a great debt of gratitude to Dr Paisley for his leadership over many decades. He has a unique ability and it would be foolish for anyone to try and mimic his style of leadership.
The DUP is the lead party at Stormont and with that position there is great responsibility. The Northern Ireland of today is vastly different to the Northern Ireland we knew when we entered politics. It has changed for the better. Just as Northern Ireland has changed so too have the challenges facing unionism. We look forward to advancing the unionist agenda in the future in the knowledge that the Union has never been more secure in decades and unionists are in control of their own destiny.”
“Every so often we hear that barmy degree courses are being offered by universities but this one takes the biscuit. Just when we thought that some university degrees couldn’t get more ridiculous, following golf management and surf studies being offered by some institutions, we learn that degrees are now being offered in bed selling. This makes a mockery of tertiary education.
The announcement of these degrees creates ridicule and headlines, but they are actually symptomatic of a serious problem in our higher education system. The government’s target of 50% of young people in higher education by 2010 means that all must have prizes regardless of how worthless the degree in question actually is. Not all young people are best suited to a university education but the government does not seem to grasp this concept and this has resulted in a huge increase in the number of university courses and places. This has left us in the situation where these silly degrees are made available.
The government needs to recognise that universities are a place for academic study, not for vocational training courses or bed selling. Young people must not be pushed into university when it is not suitable for them. The high drop out rate that we have witnessed over recent years is testimony to this.”
The dinner will take place on Friday 25th April at 7.30pm in the Ramada Hotel, Belfast, with the meal being served at 8:00pm. This year’s guest speaker will be Deputy Leader the Rt. Hon. Peter Robinson MP MLA. Tickets are priced at £25.00 each.
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