Last week in the Bendooragh Apprentice Campsie boys 25th annual dinner in Ballymoney Ian Paisley MP gave a speech celebrating the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant.
He said: “The signing of the Ulster covenant was a seminal moment, not only in the history of Ulster and the history of Ireland, but in the history of these islands. It is an inspirational moment, and it should continue to inspire the people of these islands today. We should acknowledge the significant role that the signing of the league and covenant played, not only for the Kingdom, but in helping during the great war in 1914.
“To put in historical context, in 1916, seven men signed the proclamation for the republic in Dublin. In 1776, the American declaration of independence had 56 signatories. The Ulster covenant of 1912 had 218,216 men signing it one day, with 228,991 women signing a parallel, uncompromising declaration of association with the Ulster solemn league and covenant. A further 19,162 men and 5,055 women of Ulster signed in Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Bristol.
“This was a seminal moment in British history that was determined not by the will of Parliament or by the outcome of an election, but by the will and the mass movement of people power in that part of Ireland-in Ulster, the part that we cherish most-that said, once and for all, that it is the people that really matter. I hope that when we celebrate these wonderful events this year, we will recognise that these events are wonderful because of one thing-the unique peoples that make up theses countries in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.
“We should recognise that we are a unique and wonderful people with unique and wonderful ideas, and that we have a right as a people to come together and to celebrate our diversity, to celebrate who and what we are, to cemebrate the differences also, but to hold steadfastly to the fact that we have a proud and recognisable tradition-and that nothing should make us ashamed of it.”