This Christmas we have decorated our homes, sent our cards and Santa will make his visits like every other year, but the year we have lived through has not been like any other year.
Every crime is wrong and should be punished but there are certain offences that are particularly repugnant and demand tougher custodial sentences. These include attacks, sometimes deadly, against public servants such as police and prison officers or our frontline health staff.
The outcome of the Republic of Ireland elections is a matter for the people of that jurisdiction. When a new government is formed, we will work constructively on matters of mutual concern to ensure Northern Ireland keeps moving forward with more jobs and better schools and hospitals.
The DUP understands and shares the frustrations of the public that we have not been able to get things done locally. Strike action by nurses and other hard-working staff could be avoided and the pay rise can be delivered. All it needs is a working Assembly and Executive.
Whilst pressure was building in Brussels, I led a party delegation for another useful meeting with the Prime Minister yesterday. We had a simple and straightforward message urging the Government to stand strong in Brussels and be faithful to the commitments made in the House of Commons during the debate on the Brady Amendment.
The fact that Parliament has now spelt out clearly what it wants to secure from negotiations on the withdrawal agreement seems to have bizarrely reinforced the idea from some that no alternative to the unacceptable backstop is possible.
Yesterday evening, Nigel and I met with the Prime Minister in Westminster. We reassured her that the DUP will act in the best interests of the United Kingdom. The promotion and protection of the Union is at our core.
Yesterday I hosted a meeting with the Republic of Ireland's Foreign Minister and Tanaiste Simon Coveney in Stormont. We discussed how the Irish Government and Brussels negotiators needed to have a change of heart if the United Kingdom is to reach an agreement with the European Union before March 29.
Last Monday evening I travelled to Brussels along with our MEP Diane Dodds. We had a series of meetings arranged with representatives of the EU27 as well as the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
Over 400 days ago Sinn Fein collapsed the Northern Ireland Assembly. The only reason offered for that decision still cited today is the issue of "respect". Their rationale for collapsing Stormont was quickly replaced with a set of red lines aimed at preventing its reestablishment.
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