Coveney tells DUP conference of cross-Border trust


Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney broke new political ground yesterday when he became the first government minister to address a DUP annual conference.

The Minister’s attendance at the DUP conference breakfast in the La Mon Hotel in east Belfast yesterday followed on the DUP junior minister Jonathan Bell in April becoming the first member of his party to address the Fine Gael ardfheis.

Mr Coveney said his presence at the conference was further proof of the growing trust among politicians on both sides of the Border and “another step in the right direction”.

“I hope we can develop the kind of friendship and kind of trust politically that’s needed between the largest party in Northern Ireland and the largest party in the Republic of Ireland,” he said.

The DUP Minister for Finance Sammy Wilson said the attendance of Mr Coveney was an indicator of how the DUP was a party at “ease with itself”.

During the conference, the DUP chairman of the Assembly justice committee Paul Givan welcomed the fact that all the Assembly political parties including Sinn Féin condemned the dissident republican murder of prison officer David Black.

He added, however, that Sinn Féin should do more and condemn the murders of the other 29 prison officers who were killed during the Troubles.

“It is insulting and offensive to those that served and paid the ultimate sacrifice during the terrorist campaign of the Provisional IRA for Sinn Féin to implicitly justify those murders by condemning the murder of David Black because they say ‘today’ those who carried out this killing under the banner of republicanism have no political strategy nor any public support,” he said.

“No amount of public support or political strategy can ever be used to justify the murder of those 29 prison officers, and if Sinn Féin are serious about condemning the murder of David Black and taking forward reconciliation, let them say those murders carried out by the Provisional IRA were wrong and utterly futile,” Mr Givan said.