Belfast Telegraph

Direct rule would be 'lesser of two evils': Dodds

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has said direct rule could be the "lesser of two evils" in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at his party's annual conference, the North Belfast MP was reflecting on the party's performance in the Assembly Elections, the General Election, and the deal secured as part of the confidence-and-supply agreement with the Conservative government.

"I was pleased that the Secretary of State [James Brokenshire] was able to announce that the first allocations from the confidence-and-supply arrangement will be released shortly for our health and education services and we look forward to the early release of the other aspects of the deal," he said.

"Though, I also say to the Secretary of State, that while we understand because of the talks process and the absence of Ministers, things have been more difficult, within a very short space of time that will not be a tenable excuse for not taking action.

"None of us want to see Direct Rule introduced but we are fast approaching the moment when it will be the lesser of two evils."

He also said it was not his party's intention to "push some narrow DUP agenda but to deliver for the whole community in Northern Ireland".

Over the next year, he said his party would pursue five key objectives:

  • Delivering on the agreement entered into with the Conservative Party
  • Ensuring all promises made by Conservative Party - including the delivery of £1bn in new money and £500m in increased spending flexibility - are met in a timely manner
  • Working to ensure the delivery of Brexit
  • Laying the groundwork for the future delivery for Northern Ireland
  • Embedding the party's work at Westminster to ensure unionism continues to play a role after Parliament is over

Also speaking on Saturday, DUP MLA Simon Hamilton reflected on the party's success in the General Election, saying it had been down to "the efforts of everyone here who helped out and, of course, the voters themselves".

Addressing the conference South Belfast MP Emma Little Pengelly thanked those who voted for her in the election, and said her party was “determined to build that better, brighter and stronger Northern Ireland for all”.

In her speech, DUP MEP Diane Dodds said: "Northern Ireland’s Brexit solution will be the United Kingdom’s Brexit solution. We will leave the Customs Union and the Single Market alongside Great Britain."

She added that doing so was "not just a constitutional reality but an economic necessity", as the majority of Northern Ireland's trade is with Great Britain and "cutting Northern Ireland adrift from Great Britain" would be "an act of economic vandalism".

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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