Donaldson: Murder and mayhem is never justified

The DUP leader on Saturday dismissed the Sinn Fein notion that there was no alternative to violence during the Troubles.
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To loud applause from party delegates, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson challenged comments by Michelle O'Neill earlier this year that past IRA violence was necessary.In his main conference speech, Sir Jeffrey said: "While I celebrate the past and our many achievements, my unionism does not hanker on returning back to a bygone age but looks forward to a new era."However conference, some of friends, family and colleagues, as we have heard from Kyle [Black, a DUP councillor in Mid Ulster whose prison officer father David was murdered by dissident Irish republican terrorists in 2012], sacrificed their all to protect Northern Ireland and to give us our future."And conference, we will not allow their memories to be sullied by the re-writing of history and the attempted justification for violence."DUP delegates clapped loudly in response those remarks, and when the applause subsided, Sir Jeffrey continued: "Let us as a conference send a clear message that murder and mayhem is never justified."Then, without naming Ms O'Neill but in a clear rebuke to her comments on the IRA, Sir Jeffrey said to further applause: "There was always an alternative to violence."Earlier, the conference included various panel discussions, including one chaired by Diane Dodds about 'Childcare and Early Years,' with panellists including Diane Forsythe MLA.Stephen Dunne MLA, whose popular father Gordon, also an MLA, died last year, then spoke from the stage about 'Why I am an elected representative'.In another conference panel on the main stage, a raft of DUP councillors ranging, from Tracy Kelly in Belfast to Errol Thompson in Fermanagh and Omagh, to Keith Kerrigan in Derry and Strabane, talked about the topic of 'delivering in local government'.As part of a discussion chaired by Councillor Paul McLean, some of these local representatives spoke about the challenges of serving in council districts in which unionists are in a minority, in some cases a small minority.And Gordon Lyons MLA, Stormont's economy minister and the DUP's director of elections, addressed delegates on 'Respecting our Mandate'.This was followed by a video from Alan Lewis, who spoke about why he joined the DUP from the UUP,.