The below text is the speech delivered by UKIP Spokesman for Northern Ireland, Robert Hill to National Conference on Saturday past. UKIP in Northern Ireland were well represented at conference with our largest delegation in attendance to date. (Watch via YouTube below)
It’s great to look out and see a hall full of patriots from across the UK – all motivated by one cause above all else – standing up for and believing in this great nation of ours.
I’m pleased to be here as Spokesman for Northern Ireland and I’m happy to report that we’ve come a long way as a party during the last few months.
As in much of the rest of the nation, the Northern Ireland Regional Branch suffered a few set backs during the last eighteen months. However, under the fresh leadership of Gerard nationally – and thanks to the efforts of our activists locally – we’ve seen a renewed vigour and activity in the party locally, with membership growing month on month. In the last three months alone – we’ve seen an incredible rise of around 40% in the Northern Ireland membership. We have a focused and united team, some of whom are here in the hall today – and we’re stronger than at any point before. We stand ready for the challenges ahead and are ready to contest council elections across Northern Ireland next year.
Folks, the people of Northern Ireland need and deserve a real alternative to the legacy parties that continue to fail them. There’s another common theme today across our nation. The greatest problems in politics and society are due to the establishment political class. It’s no different in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh or London: Their hunger for power and for money is much greater than their dedication to serving the people.
Conference, for over six hundred days – the people of Northern Ireland have been deprived of a fully functioning Government. The people elected MLAs to a Stormont Assembly which has not met for a year and a half. Stormont is now a white elephant. Major decisions cannot be made as the Assembly has folded ; yet the farce continues – because our MLAs – from all of the old parties, continue to be paid a salary.
So far, these self-serving politicians, who see no problem with the system -have pocketed more than 9 Million pounds NOT TO make decisions on infrastructure, health and education.
Northern Ireland has essentially been run by senior civil servants during this period, but the courts have now ruled that civil servants don’t have the authority to make key decisions. Mrs. May’s Government tell us that everything is okay, the parties “just need time.” Well, they’ve had time and talks, they’ve had talks about talks – but the people of Northern Ireland who don’t get a salary for doing nothing don’t think this farce is okay. They think it’s madness. Why should the people continue to fund these MLA’s lifestyles?
The old parties in Northern Ireland are wedded to the present Stormont chaos. After all, they’re the architects of it. The shameful six hundred days highlights just how out of date and antiquated their institutions of non-Government are now. Legislative Devolution in its current Stormont guise has failed – this model is from a time which has passed. There needs to be a re-think about the future long-term Governance of Northern Ireland. It’s also time for the people to have a say.
In the mean-time, the current situation can’t continue. The Government needs to act. It should stop the Stormont gravy-train, end this farcical situation, and return to direct rule. We can then have a mature debate on the future Governance of Northern Ireland.
The Remoaners locally – aided by their friends in the media have used their well paid vacation to tell us that because of Brexit – we’re all doomed. Trade, farmers all of us – doomed apparently. They don’t like facts very much, but here are a few for them.
Tourism is booming in Northern Ireland, the skyline is littered with cranes as growth continues. Our attractions are seeing increasing numbers of visitors and Cruise-ships from across the globe are regular visitors to Belfast now. Game of Thrones enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the HBO franchise has added around £150 million to the local economy. There are plans too for new studios opening in the city, with other TV and movie projects coming to our shores soon.
Multi million pound investments are being made too. Over the last few years, the hotel business has grown significantly with a rapidly increasing list of brand new luxury hotels being built. If you visit Northern Ireland, you will see first hand the growth. This has created new jobs in the building trade, the hospitality sector and has created new business for locally based suppliers.
Despite these recent investments in Northern Ireland – If we were to listen to the local branch of team remain – Northern Ireland would be stuck in a bizarre ‘customs arrangement’ with the EU – this insanity would prevent us from benefitting from future trade deals put in place by the rest of the UK. Those who call for this aren’t only calling for the integrity of the UK to be put into question; they’re prioritising 23% of trade with the EU over the 77% of Northern Ireland’s trade with the rest of the UK and elsewhere. Despite what we’re told by anti-democrats – it would never have been in Northern Ireland’s interest to prioritise access to the Irish Republic over access to the rest of this nation.
Do the remainers really believe that these wealthy investors don’t know what they’re doing – that they haven’t looked closely at the risks involved? Of course not: They have done their research, and they know that Northern Ireland as part of a strong, Independent United Kingdom is a place where they will profit from their investment and grow their business.
In terms of the so called ‘damage to cross-border business’ – This is more project fear. Smart-checking and trusted trader schemes exist elsewhere, and this is a practical option for trading and ensuring the integrity of the UK’s internal market. Using technology is one way of enhancing security with minimal fuss – and with no additional physical infrastructure.
I feel it’s important that we turn to one further issue of great significance: Our Northern Ireland Veterans.
Our armed forces and security services served valiantly during the troubles in Northern Ireland. These brave men put their lives on the line daily to defend us against the evils of terrorism – and many hundreds of them paid the ultimate price for doing so. The courage they displayed in protecting us must never be forgotten. We should not tolerate the rewriting of history by those who wish to legitimise the actions of terrorists. Nor must we allow this campaign to take hold where these veterans are continually persecuted – in order to appease a narrow agenda.
Were it not for the bravery and courage of our armed forces and security forces; there would not be the relative peace that we currently enjoy in my part of the United Kingdom. We have a duty to protect those who have protected us – from malicious charges and questionable legal claims from the past – some of which stretch back fifty years.
Isn’t it cruel that – whilst a large number of those they defended us against walked free years ago due to flawed agreements: These men live in fear of a knock at their door? Our veterans should be entitled to know that when they give their all to serve, they can go home with gratitude and not have to continually look over their shoulders. This witch-hunt against veterans needs to stop.
Conference, one thing is very clear. On this issue and on so many others – only UKIP is prepared to speak the truth and the language of the patriotic working people across this nation. Across the nation, we’ve lots of work to do, but as the last six months have proven, our job has only started. UKIP for the Union!