Dodds prepares party for a future compromise with SF

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.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds at the party's annual conference in the La Mon house hotel near Belfast. 

Photo by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds at the party's annual conference in the La Mon house hotel near Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

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.