From Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP <[email protected]>
Subject Engaging in Washington
Date March 9, 2024 7:59 AM
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Good morning, John

Next week I will be travelling to Washington DC to engage with lawmakers and other influential voices around Capitol Hill.

Our engagement strategy in Washington has been ramped up in recent years. This has led to new doors being opened but also enabled us to build new alliances in DC with both Democrats and Republicans with whom we share common values.

We are a strong law and order party and we have consistently opposed terrorism in all its forms. We are a pro-life party that believes passionately in the right of the unborn and we believe strongly in the right of Israel to exist as an independent democracy in the Middle East.

The DUP’s values align more easily with Senators and Congressional Representatives than many of the socialist values which Sinn Fein espouse. For decades, Sinn Fein has won a propaganda battle in Washington about a 32 County Ireland, whilst all the time holding policies which are diametrically opposed to many of the most influential voices on Capitol Hill.

That why Unionists should have a larger presence in Washington to advocate the type of peaceful shared space we are trying to create in Northern Ireland. A place where people who are British, Irish or Northern Irish can live, work and feel at home.

Our relationships in Washington are driven by building alliances which can help Northern Ireland become the prosperous place it should always have been. Last year was the most successful year I have known, as a unionist politician of almost 40 years, for advancing the pro-Northern Ireland case in Washington.

Whilst the Sinn Fein leaning Irish American lobby has been the dominant voice, there are new younger voices emerging on Capitol Hill who recognise that Sinn Fein’s agitation for a divisive border poll does not sit easy with the administration’s aim of building a shared future in Northern Ireland.

Last year we appointed East Belfast MLA David Brooks as our US engagement spokesman. David was given the task of pro-actively engaging with Americans who are interested in Northern Ireland. We want to continue to build on this.

The United States is a key driver for Northern Ireland’s economy. By example, this little patch we call home is the number one international investment location for US cyber security firms. In the last decade more than 13,000 jobs have been created in Northern Ireland due to US Foreign Direct Investment.

Northern Ireland punches massively beyond its weight in getting a warm welcome in the United States. There is a rich Scotch-Irish connection who genuinely just want to see peace and prosperity for the place their forebearers called home.

Over the last twelve months, the Government’s legacy legislation interested many in Washington. In common with us, they did not support victims losing their access to justice. Unlike other parties, the DUP has been consistent in our campaign against the corruption of justice.
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Yesterday the Operation Kenova report was published. Again, whilst having some lessons to learn for the Government, it reminds us that the intelligence agencies had infiltrated the PIRA to such an extent that they rendered the organisation almost inoperable. The actions of their agents saved countless lives throughout the period of our troubled past.

The report exposes the absolute brutality of the IRA in cases where they abducted, cruelly tortured and murdered in cold blood men and women that they accused of being agents. For those who often demand justice, these barbaric practices were the very antithesis of justice. Sinn Fein must acknowledge that this was wrong and apologise for these actions by Irish republicans.

Too often in recent decades, the focus has NOT been on the fact that 90% of the deaths in the Troubles were perpetrated by paramilitaries. Instead, some people have sought to tarnish the name of the security forces.

Working within the intelligence services or the police and the army was a role of honour in the Troubles. It was a courageous role undertaken by people who wanted to protect the entire community, defeat terrorism and secure peace for their families.

Alongside my father and brothers, I served in the UDR. The 70s and 80s were horrid times. Whenever I’m speaking to politics classes or engaging with university groups, I struggle to find words which accurately convey the brutality, fear and carnage that stalked our streets in the Northern Ireland of 1974. In many ways, it is incomparable to the Northern Ireland of 2024.

In much the same way, those criticising the RUC of the 1970s fail to recognise that being a police officer in Northern Ireland at that time, was amongst the most dangerous jobs anywhere in the western world.

If we constantly judge the events of 50 years ago through 2024 glasses, then we will do a disservice to the people of those days. Those brave heroes pulled on their uniform, unsure who would take it off and if this would be their last shift. We will never sit idle and allow the rewriting of history.

£40m is a huge bill to investigate the activities of one agent in the PIRA. It begs the question if that money might have been better spent on pro-active policing today. It is even more disappointing that on the back of such an expensive investigation, the PPS has failed to secure a single prosecution.

In the coming days, we will be asking more questions of those tasked with making decisions about troubles related prosecutions in Northern Ireland.

Where evidence exists against terrorist perpetrators, innocent victims must not be denied access to justice. This principle cannot be compromised.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
DUP Leader
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