The forthcoming Stormont Assembly poll will be Northern Ireland’s most important election in a decade, the First Minister has said.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said the outcome of May’s vote would “decide the direction” the Province takes for the next 10 years.
Mrs Foster made her remarks in an address to the Newry and Armagh DUP Association at an event in Tandragee.
“Dr Paisley used to say ‘the next election was the most important election’. He was right,” the DUP leader told party supporters.
“In just 69 days our friends and neighbours will make a choice on their ballot paper which will decide the direction of Northern Ireland for the next decade.
“I want to see a Northern Ireland where we play a full part in the United Kingdom, where everyone can take pride in our country, where we change the way we do politics, where every child has the opportunity to succeed, where economic prosperity is achieved and shared across Northern Ireland, where we value people from every background, where paramilitaries are gone for good, where the victims of terrorism have access to get justice, where no one is permitted to rewrite the past and where we make unionism stronger by bringing us together.”
She added: “In the coming weeks we face a great challenge so we can translate our pride in Northern Ireland into success for Northern Ireland.
“This is the most important election in over a decade. The 2003 Assembly election was the one that changed the direction of politics in Northern Ireland. This one will determine its fate for the next decade.”
Mrs Foster predicted some rivals would focus entirely on attacking her party in the campaign.
“Such infighting and navel-gazing will not move this country forward,” she said.
“However, I will be asking for a mandate to implement my plan to make Northern Ireland a better place.”