DUP’s Foster attacks those engaged in ‘terrorist business’
North’s finance minister warns against return to direct rule from London
Northern Ireland’s finance minister Arlene Foster: did not make any comment in her speech as to whether she will seek the First Minister post. File Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Those in the “terrorist business” should get out of it or be put out of it, the North’s Minister of Finance and prospective next First Minister Arlene Foster told the DUP annual conference .
While the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP have so far refused to endorse the Fresh Start deal of last Tuesday and Alliance has welcomed just parts of it, Ms Foster defended the agreement in her speech at the La Mon Hotel in east Belfast.
She said the agreement had dealt with the “two big issues” - paramiltarism and welfare reform deadlock - that had “almost brought our devolved institutions to an end”.
“The agreement deals with terrorist structures; deals with criminality in all its forms through increased resources and a new joint task force to tackle the cancer of paramilitaries. A new monitoring system will be created to monitor any paramilitary and criminal activity,” she said.
“Our message is clear: if you’re in the terrorist business get out of it or you will be put out of it,” declared Ms Foster.
“We have secured a financial package to assist our province. We have allocated money to help working people and ensured we have a fair but affordable welfare system whilst moving forward to invest in our front line services such as health and education,” she added.
Ms Foster said that those who would be happy to see a return of direct rule from Westminster would never learn. “Let’s just spell out what direct rule means for the slow learners: water rates; higher household rates; the end of industrial de-rating for our manufacturers; higher tuition fees; stringent cuts to welfare and tax credits; the end of any prospect of lower corporation tax; and above all else a failure of local political representatives from across the community to work together to provide stability for the future.”
She said devolution has “brought us the ability to craft a Government that is responsive to the needs of all the people of Northern Ireland whilst remaining and valuing our place within the United Kingdom”.
“We must continue to persuade those in the nationalist and republican community that their interests are served by working together in Northern Ireland. All in society will be better served by building a stronger more prosperous Northern Ireland, a Northern Ireland where people want to come to visit, invest and more importantly live in,” she added.
Ms Foster did not make any comment in her speech as to whether she will seek the First Minister post.
As with other speakers she praised First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson. “Peter Robinson had led us in negotiations with vigour, determination and he had a plan to succeed. Through his vision we were able to achieve an agreement on Tuesday and the commitments made in it will be good for the people of Northern Ireland.”