Warning of need for compromise with SF Nigel Dodds reiterated that without devolution in Northern Ireland, the government “within a very short space of time” will need to appoint Conservative ministers to run Stormont departments.
In his keynote speech to the DUP conference on Saturday, Mr Dodds said: “None of us want to see direct rule introduced but we are fast approaching the moment when it will be the lesser of two evils.”
Then, in a key segment of his speech, Mr Dodds essentially told his party, in barely-coded language, that it is in its strategic long-term interests to have Stormont restored and that will mean compromise with Sinn Féin.
The North Belfast MP cautioned against a “simple, but flawed, analysis” that the party no longer needs Stormont because of its power at Westminster. He went on: “Of course there is no pressure on us to do a deal and any agreement will have to be politically balanced, but it is in Northern Ireland’s long term interests to have a functioning Executive.
“That doesn’t mean we rush into a deal that is not right and it doesn’t mean we need to do a deal overnight but our goal should be to see Stormont up and running again. That will inevitably mean taking difficult decisions but I believe that this party has always shown that the deals we have made in the past have been to Northern Ireland’s long term advantage.”
In a well-received speech with lots of applause lines, there was no applause for that message.