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DUP's Peter Robinson calls for voters to fight off 'UK-wide threat to the Union'

By Rebecca Black

Published 05/05/2015

First Minister Peter Robinson
First Minister Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson has warned that nationalists across the UK are trying to break up the Union and has urged every unionist voter to come out and back unionism.

He said a UK Commission on the Union will be top of the DUP's shopping list after the election.

The DUP could become kingmakers after the election on Thursday, with mounting speculation of a hung parliament with neither the Conservatives nor Labour expected to secure an outright majority.

With the DUP estimated to return up to 10 MPs, the choice of government may be up to them.

The DUP was the fourth biggest party in the last parliamentary session.

Mr Robinson said his party's pact with the UUP in four constituencies is not only historic in Northern Ireland terms, but also in the context where "every pro-Union MP will count in the next Parliament". He spoke about a "significant nationalist bloc attempting to break up the Union".

"The rise of the SNP in Scotland poses a real threat to the United Kingdom. The Union could be in danger and all the pro-Union parties need to come to its aid," he said. "Anybody who thinks that separatists from the SNP in Scotland, Plaid Cymru in Wales and the SDLP in Northern Ireland will not join forces to undermine the Union simply don't understand the modus operandi of these parties." Mr Robinson revealed that his party's Northern Ireland plan sets out 45 proposals which it would like to see actioned in the event of a hung parliament.

Chief of these is strengthening the Union, specifically, a Commission on the Union. "In particular, our plan advocates strengthening the Union in a way that encompasses all four parts of the United Kingdom," the DUP leader said.

"For the people that we represent, this issue above all others will be regarded a priority.

"That's why if we have any influence after the election we will make the creation of a Commission on the Union a non-negotiable requirement of any deal.

"This will seek to deal with the interests not only of those who live in the regions of the United Kingdom but also in England as well.

"This could pave the way for a long-term stable and secure United Kingdom."

Mr Robinson said he would expect the leaders of all the pro-Union parties to enter the commission. "Party leaders rushing to Scotland at the 11th hour of a referendum campaign is not the way to save the Union," he said.

"Such actions communicate panic rather than genuine value and love for the Scottish people.

"As pro-Union parties we must recognise conscious and consistent effort is required to encourage support for the Union."

There are agreed unionist candidates in East Belfast, North Belfast, Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and Newry and Armagh.

The DUP and UUP could not reach agreement in South Belfast or Upper Bann. Mr Robinson urged voters to opt for the DUP in these constituencies, arguing only his party can win them.

"Everyone going to the polls on Thursday must consider the implication of their vote," he said.

"If they believe in the Union they cannot sit back and allow constituencies with a pro-union majority to be represented by a nationalist or republican MP.

"By sitting at home or voting for minor Northern Ireland unionist parties they are shredding the vote and weakening the unionist voice in Parliament.

"In South Belfast and Upper Bann there are risks that these unionist seats could return MPs who don't support the Union.

"Indeed, in the 2011 Assembly election SF was 29 votes ahead of the DUP in Upper Bann. Whereas in South Belfast the DUP was the largest party but with a small majority. In both these constituencies only the DUP can win for unionism."

Mr Robinson concluded saying this election is unique. "Northern Ireland has a once in a generation opportunity to be at the centre of United Kingdom politics," he said.

"Unionists must make sure their vote counts."

Belfast Telegraph

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