Jeffrey Donaldson told DUP members he would not give up tough decisions in the coming months as he warned that the economic and constitutional integrity of the UK was in balance.
The DUP leader has already indicated that his party will overthrow a Stormont executive responsible for starting the legislative elections if there are no major changes on Brexit’s disputed Irish maritime border in the coming weeks.
At the DUP Foundation’s 50th anniversary dinner, Donaldson said he could emerge as the largest party in the upcoming legislative elections, despite an unprecedented year of internal unrest and poor voting.
In a speech to DUP believers at the Belfast Hotel, Donaldson acknowledged his need to remove Northern Ireland’s “harmful” protocol, the Brexit arrangement, which created new restrictions on the movement of goods between GB and NI.
“I do not know what the next few weeks will be, but I’ll make it clear in the near future whether I will have to make difficult decisions,” he said.
“I am not in the plastering business for quick fixes or basic problems, but I want to find long-term solutions that are suitable for all our employees.
“As a party that has existed for half a century, our results should be determined not from years or months, but from the perspective of years.”
If there is no early election in the partial election, the next election for the scheduled meeting is in May next year.
Surveys indicate that the DUP will face a tough choice.
It is the fourth largest party alliance in the region, with a support rating of just 13 percent.
In the last election to the 2017 Assembly, the DUP was supported by 28% of voters.
The party is now facing the embarrassing possibility of becoming Sinn Fin’s largest party in the upcoming assembly elections.
The Republican takeover of the role of Prime Minister in Northern Ireland is a major blow to the DUP and Unionism in general.
The fall of Brexit has led some grassroots unionists to accuse the DUP of mismanagement.
There was no doubt that earlier this year was a factor in the turmoil surrounding the party, with two leaders, Arlene Foster and her successor, Edwin Boots, ousted within weeks of the civil unrest.
Foster turned down an invitation to dinner tonight.
Donaldson, who arrived after the boots in the summer, told the crowd that the party was a turning point, “back and forth”.
“I assure you, no matter what our critics suggest, we have not done it yet,” he said.
“I do not think this is an easy year for this party, I’m not saying we always did everything right, but Northern Ireland is a great place today because of our leadership for the last twenty years.
After a difficult start to the year, I believe we are turning a corner and moving in the right direction again.
“As I speak to our members, I feel that the unity of purpose and determination to succeed have been restored.”
Donaldson reiterated his willingness to work with other union parties to increase the number of pro-union votes in the upcoming election.
He made it clear that he did not support the position of the parties appointed in the constituencies.
“If the protocol is still in effect, I would like to see this joint opposition get a majority of votes and seats in the joint assembly when the next election comes,” he said.
“Yes, I have lost the claim that Sin Ireland is promoting the campaign for a partition border election by ensuring that the DUP withdraws as the largest party in Northern Ireland.
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Evidence from recent election results shows that winning a majority of union seats is no small challenge.
The DUP leader told members that the removal of the Irish maritime border and the laying of the foundation for the future success of Northern Ireland were two major challenges.
DUP was founded by Ian Baisley, who died on September 30, 1971.
Donaldson said the path to power for the opposition party has not always been easy or simple.
“I have no doubt that the coming months will be challenging and difficult,” he added.
In the past, we never avoided the challenge, and now we have to make decisions, whether or not.
“This party has written in the past and has written our political condolences many times.
“I see some people coming back, and we’re on our way.
“But we were always strong, because we panicked when others panicked, because we cooperated in changing circumstances and united when attacked from all sides.
“It simply came to our notice then.
“But this time the DUP’s verdict is not balanced, but on the economic and constitutional integrity of the union.”
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