On Saturday, UKIP Northern Ireland held its first ever autumn conference. As well as planning ahead for upcoming elections, we took stock of where we are as a party in Northern Ireland.
In 24 months, our membership has trebled, we now have over 300 members locally, we’ve appointed a Regional Management Committee and appointed David McNarry MLA as our local leader.
We’ve now got representatives in place across Northern Ireland with our newest branch in Fermanagh and South Tyrone being inaugurated just recently.
But there’s still much to do. That’s why conference kicked off with an intensive briefing for potential council candidates. We’ll confirm candidates early next year, but it’s already clear we’ll be fielding a record number and fighting our first European election here too.
With some establishment parties reporting a steep decline in membership, just why is UKIP growing? The answer’s simple, we’re in touch with reality, we’re campaigning on issues, which really matter, and we’ve the policies to make a difference.
Beyond the chattering classes, normal people in Northern Ireland are too busy choosing between heating and eating to hang on every word Dr Haass says. In the real world, parents recognise they know better than Minister O’Dowd what’s best for their children. And most people agree, believing a child is entitled to have a mother and not two gay daddies, doesn’t make you a dinosaur.
That’s why at conference, we voted to ban the industrial scale wind turbine farms, which primarily benefit big business and wealthy landowners and disproportionately impact upon the poor.
It’s why we support the Dickson Plan in north Armagh, and the reopening of Lisnaskea High School. It’s why we pledged our support for the UK’s Judeo-Christian heritage, supporting heterosexual marriage.
And as David McNarry quite rightly said, it's why we support our Armed Forces and veterans too and called for the full implementation of the military covenant in this part of the UK
We heard solutions to many of our present problems and heard ideas for our farming and fishing industries that would allow them to thrive again.
I don’t expect UKIP’s message to go down well at Stormont, curry favour among the chattering classes or be well received by some sections of the media.
But it’s clear our common sense approach to politics is increasingly well received in homes across Northern Ireland. And that’s what really matters.