Latest demonstration of DUP’s record in Devolution

DUP MLA for Fermanagh & South Tyrone and the Party’s Chief Whip in the Assembly Lord Morrow of Clogher Valley has said that the voting record of Assembly Members is yet another demonstration of the DUP’s record in devolution. The figures come after the publication of other data which showed that the attendance of DUP members at Committee meetings far exceeded that of other parties. Commenting on the figures Lord Morrow said,
“There are several different aspects to the work of an Assembly Member and all of these roles are important. Obviously however, the role of a Member of the Legislative Assembly must include the scrutiny of legislation as it goes through the relevant committees and on the floor of the Assembly. Figures published last week showed that the attendance of DUP Members at Committee meetings far exceeded those of the other parties.

It is not surprising therefore that DUP members also lead the way in terms of their voting record within the Assembly. Of the 20 Assembly Members with the best voting records, 15 of these are from the DUP. On the other hand, of the bottom 20 Assembly Members 7 of the UUP’s 18 MLAs are included within this group.

Questions must surely be asked of someone like David Burnside, who does not even sit on an Assembly Committee and holds no Ministerial office, yet can only find the time to participate in less than one quarter of the votes within the Assembly. Time and time again we have witnessed the failures of the UUP whips to muster more than a handful of their members to either participate in a debate or in a vote. This appears to be the level of representation given by the Ulster Unionist Party. Because of this kind of lax attitude to participation within the Assembly there is no doubt that the unionism suffers and the full voice of unionism is not heard. We may have thought that the era of half-hearted UUP representation was over, but it appears to be alive and well.

The DUP is committed to giving the people the best possible representation at all levels. While some other parties appear not to be able to find the time to actually participate in the activities they were elected to carry out, the DUP will continue to ensure that we will work within the devolved structures to deliver the best possible outcomes for the people of Northern Ireland.”

DUP Leader meets Secretary of State over Eames-Bradley

DUP Leader Rt. Hon. Peter Robinson MP MLA has told the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland that compensation proposals contained in the Eames Bradley Report which make no distinction between the terrorist and the terrorised are fomenting division in the community and hurt among victims and should be disregarded by the Government. Commenting after an hour long meeting with Shaun Woodward the East Belfast MP said,
“This was a very useful meeting where I was able to convey the strong opposition to proposals which make no distinction between the terrorist and those people who they terrorised.
The Eames Bradley Report, though not yet published, is irreparably damaged as a result of this offensive payment proposal which would view those such as the Shankill bombers in the same light as their innocent victims. Such a suggestion is grossly offensive. There can be no equivalence between those who went out with the clear intention of murdering and those men and women who were slaughtered as they went about their daily business.
The manner in which the consultative group allowed information to be selectively published has also damaged and undermined the totality of its work. The issue of victims and dealing with the past is contentious and must be dealt with in a sensitive and sensible way. However, the Group’s one-size-fits-all approach totally disregards these sensitivities.
It is abundantly clear that the Eames Bradley report has failed to garner the consensus on dealing with the past which it originally set out to achieve. The Secretary of State is now fully aware that the Democratic Unionist Party does not consider such an outcome as set out in the Eames Bradley group as offering any basis for dealing with the Troubles from which we have emerged. Their approach not only blurs the line between victims and perpetrators but also ignores the tens of thousands who were seriously injured.
The Report is also replete with a duplication of functions and roles which overlap, in many instances, with matters already within the purview of, and best left to, the Victims Commissioners.”

Deputy Leader outlines priorities for the Loyal Orders

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds has re-iterated the DUP’s continued commitment to using devolution to advance the interests of the Loyal Orders. In a key-note address to party members in his constituency, Mr. Dodds outlined the areas where progress had been made using devolution and detailed future key priorities for the party. During the course of his remarks, the DUP Deputy Leader said:

“During the direct rule regime our Loyal Orders were sidelined and ignored whilst the cultural traditions of our community were subjected to systematic discrimination in terms of funding and support from government. Using devolution, the DUP has worked to end that situation and we can be proud of what we have achieved through working together with our friends in the Loyal Orders.
We have delivered the de-rating of halls throughout Northern Ireland. Our strenuous efforts saw the introduction of new compensation arrangements and we removed plans from central government to place a time limit on the changes to the law. We have reformed the Community Festivals Fund to ensure more access to funding for events such as The Twelfth. The Strategic Review of Parading should ensure the demise of the hated Parades Commission and we have increased by £1million the level of funding going to the Ulster-Scots sector.

Not one of these positive benefits would have been accrued under direct rule. People know that direct rule was bad for our community and bad for the protection and promotion of our culture and heritage. There are a range of issues that we will be striving to achieve further progress on.
Some of the issues that we will be taking forward in 2009 include:

Increasing capacity within the Protestant community

Supporting the efforts of the Orange Institution to expand their range of educational facilities and programmes

Helping isolated border Protestant communities

Increasing official recognition of the Loyal Orders to ensure that they are included in all statutory and governmental consultation exercises – in keeping with their status as a key stake-holder within our community.

The DUP will continue to fight against the erosion of our British identity and will battle to ensure that any attempt to dilute our British way of life is defeated. In pursuing these important goals we look forward to the continued co-operation and support of our friends in the Loyal Orders. Through working together we can build on the good work started and ensure that the Loyal Orders are afforded the recognition and support they deserve.”

DUP Leader’s New Year Message

DUP Leader Rt Hon Peter Robinson MP MLA delivered the following New Year’s message to the people of Northern Ireland. Mr Robinson said,
“In the face of the world-wide economic downturn I am confident that in 2009 the Executive can demonstrate why devolution is good for the people of Northern Ireland. There are undoubtedly difficult months ahead and serious challenges to be faced but devolution can allow us to tailor our response to meet the problems that we will encounter.
People understand that it was not the Executive which caused the global economic difficulties but they expect us to respond to them. We have made a good start with the package already announced, but the next year will bring even greater challenges for us to face.
After a period of settling in for the Executive, it is vital that devolution is seen to deliver. In this we are building on firm foundations over the last twenty months. Delivering on what we have already promised and adapting to meet emerging challenges will be the best way we can serve the people of Northern Ireland.
We should never underestimate how far we have come in just a few short years, but nor can we live on past accomplishments. The peace and devolution settlement within the United Kingdom which has been achieved may have once seemed impossible, but it must be the platform that we use to improve the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland and not an end in itself.
In the next few months the Executive must do all that it can to keep people in work and keep the economy moving. Keeping people in work must be a central focus in this coming year.
Rather than meekly accept and weather the recession, we must use the global downturn to Northern Ireland’s advantage by playing to our advantages internationally for those who wish to invest and by preparing for the recovery. After decades of conflict we have enormous potential for growth in the years ahead.
We must use the fact that we are a small regional administration within the UK to our advantage and be able to react in an agile and tailored way to meet our needs. Our membership of the United Kingdom will help us weather the economic problems but we must seek to move our economy away from a dependence on the Exchequer.
We should not underestimate just how far Sinn Fein has travelled in a few years with their acceptance of the police and the courts and their willingness to operate devolution within the United Kingdom, but we must never again allow narrow party political agendas to divert the focus of the Executive away from delivering for the people of Northern Ireland.
As First Minister I am keen to see all four parties in the Executive working together for the benefit of the people of Northern Ireland. I want to see us moving forward on the basis of consensus but this can only be done by all Ministers respecting the authority of the Executive and, especially at this time, not seeking to peddle political dogma.
I hope that in 2009 we can also see further progress in the area of the devolution of policing and justice but we also have a responsibility to ensure that the powers that we already have are exercised as efficiently and effectively as possible. This year I believe we should take a fresh look at whether we can improve the value for money of our present institutions.
After St Andrews the North South Ministerial Council may be politically benign, but is it really the most effective use of our time and resources? This is not a comment on the value of North South co-operation for in all of the economic difficulties that we face one vital boost has been the stimulus to our economy from the Border, the value of euro against sterling and lower UK VAT rates.
Finally, at this time we should also remember and be grateful for our troops that have served and are serving overseas. Their contribution to the safety and security of the world has been immeasurable and we should be proud of them all.”