The Government report confirming the existence of an armed IRA which has firm ties to Sinn Fein vindicates what the TUV has been saying for years, leader Jim Allister has told his party’s annual conference.
The North Antrim MLA told around 200 party members gathered in Templepatrick that the events of recent months had “comprehensively vindicated and validated the TUV analysis and position”.
The TUV leader received a warm reception after being introduced as someone who has now outlasted two DUP leaders.
Asking and answering his own questions, Mr Allister put it to delegates: “Who was it consistently challenged the convenient contention that IRA decommissioning was complete? TUV.
“Who was it derided the pretence that the IRA had disbanded? TUV.
“Who was it dared to say the IRA Army Council was still there? TUV.
“Who was it talked about continuing IRA criminal activity? TUV.
“And who was it perpetuated the myth that all was well, the IRA was gone, the Army Council was a thing of the past? The DUP.”
He said that the DUP had “made careers and power out of pulverising David Trimble over his weakness” while boasting of their “virility in putting manners on republicanism”.
Mr Allister derided DUP “macho man Gregory Campbell”, saying that the East Londonderry MP and MLA had been reduced to saying “we can’t get them out” when challenged about the presence of Sinn Fein in the Executive despite the existence of an armed IRA.
He added: “Little wonder Sinn Fein MLAs gave Peter Robinson a standing ovation. Didn’t he let them keep their Army Council in government? Of course they gave him a standing ovation. They have reason to be grateful to him. What a legacy for the man who once said the only cabinet the IRA should be in is one with brass handles.”
Mr Allister also attacked the Executive’s record, accusing it of “greed and squander” on 19 special advisers at a cost of £2 million a year, £400,000 for publicly-funded photos of ministers and £5 million a year on Stormont spin doctors.
He accused the DUP of self-interest in joining with Sinn Fein to block his bill to cut the number of Spads – despite the DUP at that point boycotting Assembly debates on cancer and autism.
He said that TUV was the “authentic voice of opposition to the tawdry regime in Stormont” and challenged voters who like what he is doing to vote for TUV candidates in May’s Assembly election.
Mr Allister quoted Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell, who told the DUP conference: “Don’t let anyone tell you that manufacturing in Northern Ireland is in a difficult position.”
The TUV leader added: “Eye on the ball, instead of eye on the camera would serve some ministers better.”
And Mr Allister also sharply criticised UUP leader Mike Nesbitt for apologising to the Deputy First Minister after the National Anthem was spontaneously sung at Stormont’s Remembrance Day service last month.
Mr Allister accused Sinn Fein Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin of having it “surgically removed” from the programme but praised TUV press officer Sammy Morrison for leading the singing, adding that “unlike some we’ve no apology to make to an IRA commander for honouring Her Majesty at a remembrance service, particularly recalling what his IRA did in Enniskillen”.