Belfast Telegraph

We're the best hope for Union, TUV leader Allister tells his party

Conference speech: Jim Allister
Conference speech: Jim Allister

By Mark Bain

TUV leader Jim Allister will use today's annual conference to tell delegates his party offers the only straightforward, straight talking and resolute protection for the Union.

Party members will gather at The Royal Hotel in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, and Mr Allister said May's local government elections will give voters the chance to show their dissatisfaction with the state of politics in Northern Ireland.

Focusing on two key issues - the impasse at Stormont and the fallout from Brexit - Mr Allister said the country is living through "interesting times, both in terms of wider politics and within unionism itself".

"Stormont has been a shambles," he said ahead of his leader's address.

"The TUV stated from the outset that the design of Stormont was never going to work and we have been proved right.

"There is no point patching it back together in the same format, to have it fall apart again.

"There needs to be a voluntary coalition with parties who have an appetite to make it work. Sinn Fein don't want to make it work.

"Unless there's a root and branch change, we might as well tear the place down."

He will tell delegates Mrs May's Brexit deal is a "clear betrayal of the Union". He said: "Anyone backing the backstop isn't voting for Brexit, they're voting for an exit from the UK.

"No one committed to staying in the

Uunion could possibly even think of backing Mrs May's deal.

"Add to that we have scandals like RHI and holiday junkets and there is a lot of unease within unionism. It has been dragged down to the low level of Sinn Fein, where they now see fit to preach on standards of public life."

Ahead of May's local government elections, Mr Allister said they will be a litmus test for the mood of unionists.

"With the TUV you will get no unwanted sleaze. We are straightforward, straight talking and resolute on the future of the union. I suspect many people are unhappy at how things are turning out thanks to who they voted for before.

"We go into the local government elections looking to build from the bottom up. Obviously we want to increase our representation. If we don't do that, we're not building."

Mr Allister's speech will also touch on the decision to prosecute a former paratrooper over the events of Bloody Sunday. "We're unhappy at the current hierarchy of victims, with the Bloody Sunday families at the top of the tree," he said.

"In 1972 we also had Bloody Friday, but IRA murders don't count it seems when it comes to dealing with the past. In Londonderry in 1972 there were dozens of IRA killings and not a single charge brought for the murder of soldiers, policemen and civilians.

"All our thoughts will be with the families of innocent victims of terrorism who never saw a public inquiry into the death of their loved ones and certainly never saw anyone prosecuted for the murder of their family members, nor enhanced compensation. Maybe it's time for all those thousands of silent people who have been victims of all terrorism to start their own 'Me Too' campaign."

Belfast Telegraph

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