Irish backstop –
The DUP too often has played into its “enemies’ hands” and too often the challenges facing the party are of its own making, the South Belfast MP Emma Little-Pengelly told the annual conference of the DUP on Saturday.
Ms Little-Pengelly said it was not all “doom and gloom” however. She said that Northern Ireland was “born into adversity” and “grew and progressed through constant attack and plot”. She said it now “falls on our new generations to protect the union”.
She said while the DUP must face challenges “admittedly, too often, some of these challenges are of our own making”.
“We must reflect, we must do better. Our opponents attempt to demonise us – part of our challenge will be to ensure we do not make it easy for them. Perhaps, too often, we play into our enemies’ hands,” she said.
Ms Little-Pengelly added: “I know that we are not a party of hate, or bigotry, or backwardness. I know we are a party of passion and compassion, a party brimming with ideas, the party which supports families, the party of business, the party of Northern Ireland.
“It is this party that has driven a strong, sensible agenda to grow our economy and help Northern Ireland thrive. This is the positive, progressive unionist message we must promote.”
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She said that unionists “can, do and must in the future come from all communities” and the DUP could win their support by being “inclusive, welcoming, forward-looking, by being strong and reasonable”.
Ms Little-Pengelly said that the “new Ireland” agenda did not stand up to scrutiny. “Leaving the United Kingdom would bring seismic economic disruption, decades of transition and chaos, a loss of relevance in the world, cut off from the much-needed support we get,” she told delegates.
“It is our single market and customs union created by the Act of Union which is now being offered as a sacrifice for the protection of the European Union,” she said.
“A hard border in the Irish Sea will never be acceptable, severing Northern Ireland economically from our biggest market and breaking the guarantees of trading freedoms is utterly abhorrent,” she said.
“On our other side, lies the very real and present danger that is Jeremy Corbyn. We know his background. We know with whom his sympathies lie. This man is no friend of the union. Let us make no mistake, Corbyn is the greatest existential threat to our union. If Corbyn gets the key to Number 10 our union will be in peril,” she added.
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