Party to oppose independence for Scotland

Mon, Nov 26, 2012, 00:00

The DUP will campaign against Scotland voting for independence in 2014, party deputy leader Nigel Dodds told his party’s annual conference on Saturday.

The North Belfast MP said that unionists watched with sadness the attempt by Scottish nationalists to “undo the bonds of union which bound us through history”.

“But just as we have advocated the union here in Northern Ireland, so we will be the advocates for the union in the midst of a Scottish referendum. Just as we have been proved right here, so, I believe, the people of Scotland will see that we are better together, better when we are united as one,” said Mr Dodds.

“This party believes strongly that, together, the United Kingdom has significant influence in the world. The break-up of the union would be financially, culturally and politically devastating for all of the British people.

“As unionists we oppose any action that would erode the shared cohesion of the constituent parts which make up this kingdom,” he said.

“We have a shared past, we have to strength together in the present and when the people of Scotland finally vote against independence, so we will see our union flourish into the future,” added Mr Dodds.

Mr Dodds complained about what he called the “irrational and inconsistent decisions of the Parades Commission” during the summer, when there was violence at Ardoyne on July 12th and concerns over the Ulster Covenant parade, which eventually passed off peacefully.

“We must never have another summer like last summer and the work for change starts now. That change starts with finding an alternative to the chaotic mess created by the Parades Commission,” he said.

Mr Dodds, referring to the dissident republican threat, said Northern Ireland still faced big challenges. “There are evil people who want to drag us backwards. The terrible, despicable murder of David Black reminds us of that. But together the people of Northern Ireland will face down and defeat these elements just as we have at every juncture in our history.”

Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Industry Arlene Foster told delegates it was vital that Tourism Ireland started to promote Northern Ireland as a “part of the United Kingdom on the island of Ireland”.

“For too long officialdom has been afraid to promote Northern Ireland as a country with all its rich cultures and traditions,” she said.

Ms Foster said that in the face of the world recession, the North needed a unity of purpose. She said red tape was persistently raised as a barrier to job creation and what was required was “smart regulation, not no regulation”.

“So I call on the business organisations . . . the ordinary working man and woman: What rules should go? What should stay? What rules should be simplified? Let us work together to our common aim of more jobs in safe and respectful workplaces.”

Ms Foster said that Northern Ireland would be “strutting its stuff on the global stage” next year with a range of “massive events” including the World Police and Fire Games and Derry as UK City of Culture, not to mention the G8 summit of world leaders in Fermanagh. “We will show what our wee country has to offer for tourists, for businesses and for investors.”