DUP leader Arlene Foster has said her party will recommend a vote to leave the European Union.
In a statement today, Mrs Foster emphasised that DUP party members will be free to vote in whatever way they choose when the referendum is held later this year.
Speaking after Prime Minister David Cameron claimed he had delivered a good deal for Britain, Mrs Foster said there was nothing in the settlement that changed the UK’s relationship with Europe.
“In our view we see nothing in this deal that changes our outlook. Therefore we will on balance recommend a vote to leave the EU,” she said.
“Importantly however the decision on whether the United Kingdom should remain in or leave the EU is fundamentally not one for parties but for every individual voter across the nation to determine.”
“As every voter has the opportunity to express a view we fully expect that DUP members and voters will hold a range of differing personal views as to what is in the best interests of the United Kingdom. They are fully entitled to do so during what will be a momentous political debate about the direction of travel our nation chooses.
“We want to see a campaign that is positively run. We want to make sure that the case made for the United Kingdom outside the EU, is a case made for a United Kingdom that values its friends, welcomes them and seeks to co-operate positively and fairly with them.
“There have been far too many scare stories already in this debate. People want clarity. They want facts not spin. I hope that, on both sides, the scare stories will now stop as we get down to the serious business of debating our future relationship with Europe.
“Obviously in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and London elections will take place at the same time as the Referendum campaign. This is deeply regrettable but we must accept it and move on.
“The Assembly election should focus on who has the best vision and plan to lead Northern Ireland forward. For our part, we will be campaigning on every doorstep in Northern Ireland, setting out our vision for the future of Northern Ireland.
“When we turn to the EU, we will be addressing its countless unresolved failures and the crises still to come.
“Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, it is clear that the problems involved in the very nature of the EU will continue.”