The Officers and Members of the Queen’s University Democratic Unionist Association wish to congratulate Cllr. Arlene Foster MLA on her magnificent victory in this week’s Enniskillen By-Election.
Enniskillen by-election winner Arlene Foster has said that the community in Fermanagh have responded to the positive platform of unionist unity put forward by the DUP in the recent election campaign. Mrs Foster however questioned why a unionist seat was ever put in danger through the forcing of an election by the UUP. Speaking today Mrs Foster said,
“The result of this by-election has been a vindication of the DUP’s position and of our campaign locally. We know that the unionist community, particularly in areas west of the Bann want to see unionism strengthened and that is why the core of our campaign was to ensure that unionist representation in Fermanagh was not diminished, as well as highlighting the many important issues which are currently affecting peoples lives.
This is a good result for unionism as a whole in Fermanagh. The turnout has shown that the community responded to our call that every vote was vital. The DUP also stressed early in the campaign the need for a high level of transfers within the unionist family and I am pleased that this was also heeded. I believe that this result can be a template for the future in elections across the Province.
Ideally this seat would have been filled through a co-option, something which has already happened twice during this Council term in Fermanagh including the co-option of a Sinn Fein Councillor. However having raised no objections to those appointments, the Ulster Unionist Party saw fit to block to co-option of a DUP nominee, putting the seat in danger and costing the ratepayers of Fermanagh £20,000 in the process. Having objected to the co-option of a DUP nominee on the grounds that he was too young, the UUP then questioned whether someone could be a good wife and mother as well as fulfilling the same political duties carried out by men.
I am glad that we were not distracted from our campaign by these kind of attacks, and that the people of Enniskillen were also able to see through them. I have always been committed to delivering for the people at whatever level I have the privilege to represent them. My energies will continue to be dedicated to that cause and to ensure that the people of Enniskillen and the entire County of Fermanagh can have the best possible services at the lowest cost to the ratepayer.”
The DUP Leader Rt. Hon. Peter Robinson MP MLA has congratulated Arlene Foster on her successful election to Fermanagh District Council. The DUP Leader said,
“I would like to congratulate Arlene Foster on her excellent result in the Enniskillen by-election. This is an outstanding victory for the DUP in an area which returned four nationalists and only three unionists at the last Council elections. This result demonstrates that the DUP is still the lead Party in Northern Ireland and the only unionist Party which can defeat Sinn Fein. This is consistent with recent polls carried out across the Province.
Arlene’s successful election represents the best result for the DUP in this electoral area in our entire history with an increase in our share of the vote by more than 2% compared to the excellent 2005 result.
Those who have sought to undermine the DUP have been given their answer by the people of Enniskillen. The increase in the combined share of the unionist vote represents growing confidence within the unionist community, and it is a sign that even in areas where nationalists are in the majority the DUP can go in and win. It demonstrates that if unionists work together in this constituency and further afield we can deliver a victory. Today’s result is a vindication of the DUP’s policy on ensuring that effective government is delivered for the people of Northern Ireland.”
DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds has called upon the UUP leader Reg Empey to immediately denounce comments made by former UUP Minister Sam Foster and make it clear that the sexist attitude of the UUP in Fermanagh is out of order. Mr. Dodds made his call following comments by Sam Foster questioning the ability of a woman to hold down roles equivalent to those held by Sam Foster’s Party colleague Cllr Michael McGimpsey, and less than those held by the UUP’s Party leader Cllr Reg Empey. Responding to the comments Mr. Dodds, the MP for North Belfast said,
“It certainly is scraping the bottom of the barrel when political knockabout stops and mud-slinging starts. The core of former UUP Minister Sam Foster’s arguments in a letter to a Fermanagh newspaper are that a woman cannot hold down the same roles which are currently being held by Sam’s own male Party colleagues. Sam Foster questions how someone could possibly be a good wife and mother if they should have the ‘audacity’ to be a Councillor, MLA and Minister. He also suggests that Basil Johnson is a good candidate because “he is a single person”. From when did marital status become a determining factor of one’s ability to be a Councillor?
Let me ask Sam Foster if he believes that Michael McGimpsey can be a good father, husband, Councillor, MLA and Minister? Furthermore, does he believe his Party leader is able to fulfil his roles as a father, husband, Councillor, MLA, Minister and also his extra role as Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party? Quite frankly, these remarks would not have been made about a male election candidate – it is blatant sexism. However, we probably should not be surprised at the views being espoused by this senior Ulster Unionist given the undercurrent of sexism which has been prevalent from Ulster Unionists on the ground right throughout this election campaign. It also perhaps goes some way to explain why there isn’t a single woman on the UUP benches at Stormont.
I am demanding a statement immediately from the Ulster Unionist leader denouncing these comments, and distancing himself from the kind of sexist attitude which is clearly prevalent within his Party in Fermanagh. I note that no action was ever taken after comments previously made by the former UUP MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone during the 2005 General Election campaign. So much for the radical structural changes to the UUP which Reg Empey claimed to have made! Surely Reg Empey cannot tolerate this kind of attitude as a core Ulster Unionist value or will action be taken to stamp out these prejudices and disciplinary action taken against those members? That is a key question for the man who leads the UUP.
I, like all politicians, am prepared to engage in political debate, but I most certainly am not prepared to endure what amounts to personal abuse being flung at a candidate simply on the grounds of gender. I am asking people to cast their votes, not on the basis of gender, but on ability to do the job, and to return a Party which can deliver for the people of Enniskillen. That is the platform on which the DUP is running a very enthusiastic and vigorous campaign. The fact that the Ulster Unionist Party is resorting to this kind of personal invective and bile obviously makes a very clear statement about the state of desperation within their camp.”
DUP Leader Peter Robinson has responded to the findings of the most recent Independent Monitoring Commission report. Commenting on the publication of the IMC’s special report on the IRA the DUP leader said,
“The DUP has insisted on the complete dismantling of all paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland. We have been consistent in our view that there can be no place in society for paramilitary organisations. The publication of this report from the Independent Monitoring Commission highlights the very considerable progress that has been achieved to date. As advocates of the complete ending of the IRA and other terrorist organisations we welcome the findings contained in this latest report and acknowledge the progress on the dismantling of terrorist structures. This is a vindication of our strategy and undoubtedly this has been achieved as a result of our determination to rid Northern Ireland of the terrorist structures that have plagued us for so long.
We have indicated that it was for Republicans to demonstrate a commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means by supporting the Police Service of Northern Ireland, giving support to the courts and the rule of law, a complete ending of paramilitary activity and the removal of terrorist structures. The findings of this report confirm that our aim to achieve the end of the IRA is working. We welcome the IMC assessment that on our watch the “so-called military departments have ceased to function and have been disbanded” and that “the organisation’s former terrorist capability has been lost”. Confirmation that the organisation is “being allowed to wither away”, will be something that people across the Province will regard as a welcome advancement.
While the IMC indicates that the Army Council is no longer operational or functional an essential part of building confidence in the community is that the Army Council has moved from a body that is not meeting to one that will never meet again. While it is marked progress that the IRA is no longer “doing business” the Unionist community needs to be convinced by the republican leadership that the IRA is out of business for good.”