From Gavin Robinson MP <[email protected]>
Subject Focusing on the job in hand
Date April 6, 2024 6:59 AM
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Good morning John

I count it an honour to have been appointed as interim leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

No one can deny that the events of the past week have been profoundly shocking and my thoughts remain with those who are suffering. It is absolutely critical that the integrity of our criminal justice system is respected in the coming days.

At the heart of the DUP, there is a unity of purpose - a shared and steadfast desire to provide the best possible service for our constituents and to promote and strengthen Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom. That has not changed, nor will it under my leadership. The DUP has always been blessed to have strength and depth in our talent pool, and experience, acquired through many battles, throughout both our elected ranks and our grassroots membership. We are stronger, and achieve more, together. The DUP is, and always has been, about the cause of preserving our place in the Union and working to better the condition of every citizen.

While some on the margins of the Unionist cause seem to focus more on the issues of division and weakening our common cause, the DUP is the largest unionist party because unionists know we have a vision to grow and a determination to deliver for Northern Ireland. We are the party with the strength to get things done.

The United Kingdom and its four nations have changed indelibly since its creation. Previous Unionist leaders recognised the need for our political and economic arrangements to adapt to those realities. Northern Ireland’s changing demographics require us to build a broad coalition of pro-Union support. This inclusive brand of unionism, far from representing weakness, represents confidence and strength and will be the key to preserving our constitutional position, and the benefits flowing from it, for generations to come.

I hold dear the traditions and values of our Union. I still have the same love of Crown and Country that led me to purchase a ‘Heart for Ulster’ badge when at school. I am still horrified and opposed at the amnesty for terrorists, which ultimately motivated me to become involved in politics. I will never tolerate or support a corrupted version of a shared future where my Unionist culture and identity - of which I am immensely proud - is denigrated and diluted. I am a proud and confident Unionist.

With humility I look forward to visiting every corner of Northern Ireland to talk, and listen to, people and communities and hear about their concerns and their aspirations.

As leader of Unionism, I want to contribute to a Northern Ireland that is secure within the Union and is a great place to live, study, work, invest and raise a family. A society in which teachers, nurses, police officers are paid fairly and where it does not take months, let alone years, to see a hospital consultant.

As a parent, I want to see a Northern Ireland in which working families are not desperately struggling with the soaring costs of childcare. Devolution, whilst imperfect, remains the best means of delivering for local people. The DUP is a party that supports devolution and we make no apology for that. Since early February, we have seen the return of local government where decisions have been taken in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland. However, there is much more to do, and with the current budget restraints we must act sensibly and honestly as we tackle the long term challenges ahead.

The restoration of the Executive and Assembly is in the best interests of Northern Ireland and time will prove that a prosperous Northern Ireland - one that provides opportunity for everyone everywhere - will lead to a stronger Northern Ireland at ease with itself. This is a powerful line of defence against those who would promote the fantasy and economic illiteracy of a so-called United Ireland.

There are those who have exploited genuine and legitimate concerns about the Windsor Framework and all that arisen thereafter to argue that there should be no local power at Stormont and that all power should reside at Westminster. Their vision, were it to become a reality, would lead to the delivery of a wreckers charter and a vastly weakened and divided unionism. Such tactics if successful would deliver reduced unionist representation at Westminster and give Sinn Fein the propaganda of being the largest party for the third successive election.

I have never sought to portray our agreement with the Government as perfect. Problems still exist and I will always be open and honest about that. There is more work to do in getting more goods moving between GB and NI out of the red lane and into the new internal market system and with determination with get deliver more. Regulations have now been laid that will lead to UK Ministers ending further unnecessary sea border checks. Some of our detractors bizarrely want those powers to remain with the Protocol cheerleaders in the Alliance Party who now head-up DAERA. They fail to explain how that will deliver their objectives.

I am not in the business of taking a backward step or talking down what we have achieved. There is a recognition within the Unionist community, and across Northern Ireland, that the new arrangements, when fully and faithfully implemented by the Government, represent progress on where we have come from.

The DUP will remain focused on ensuring that regardless of who forms the next government, the commitments made by both the Conservatives and Labour to Northern Ireland will be honoured and delivered.

This is a time for Unionism to focus on the job in hand. If we are to derail Sinn Fein’s divisive border poll plans, Northern Ireland must return a pro-Union majority to Parliament. Any other outcome will embolden non-unionists. By galvanising support for the DUP, and by articulating a confident and realistic vision for Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, I want to ensure that doesn’t happen. I invite others to join with me as we collectively strive to put Unionism confidently on the front foot.

Gavin Robinson MP

Democratic Unionist Party

Interim Leader

Also this week:

Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly was joined by the Lord-Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute as she launched a Red Bay RIB that will operate to Campbeltown from Ballycastle, with routes to Islay.

Communities Minister Gordon Lyons visited Institute Football Club in Londonderry and Royal Portrush Golf Club in Portrush along with local representatives Gary Middleon MLA and Gregory Campbell MP.

Education Minister Paul Givan gave a commitment to introduce a GCSE in BSL Sign Language.
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