On Saturday 29th September P.U.P. leader Billy Hutchinson delivered two seperate speeches commemorating Ulster Covenant Day. The first was delivered in Sandy Row and the second at the City Hall. Both can be read in full here.
Belfast City Hall. Ulster Day, 29th September 2012.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On this momentous occasion, let us take a moment to remind ourselves of the simple yet immensely powerful words that draw us here 100 years from they were etched indelibly in the annals of our history:
Ulster’s Solemn League and Covenant
Being convinced in our consciences that Home Rule would be disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the whole of Ireland, subversive of our civil and religious freedom, destructive of our citizenship and perilous to the unity of the Empire, we, whose names are underwritten, men of Ulster, loyal subjects of his Gracious Majesty King George V, humbly relying on the God whom our fathers in days of stress and trial confidently trusted, do hereby pledge ourselves in solemn Covenant throughout this our time of threatened calamity to stand by one another in defending for ourselves and our children our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom and in using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland. And in the event of such a Parliament being forced upon us we further solemnly and mutually pledge ourselves to refuse to recognise its authority. In sure confidence that God will defend the right we hereto subscribe our names.
We remain convinced by conscience, instinct and intellect that any diminution of Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom would be disastrous to the material well being of this country; a century ago, as now, the benefit of a role in one of the world’s major economies proved of great value to industrialist, shopkeeper and shipyard worker alike. Today, we remain committed to the shared endeavour of sixty million citizens with a common ethic and an aspiration which continues to define this Kingdom as a major force in the global economic landscape. Driven with the vigour of ambition and enterprise but guided by the principles of equality and social justice; the United Kingdom of today offers its citizens the opportunities and safeguards envisioned by the framers of the Covenant and ensures us, as citizens, a well being in social as well as economic terms.
We contend today, as did our forbears then, that the civil and religious freedom enshrined by the Glorious Revolution is best maintained in a multicultural and tolerant United Kingdom. Their warnings were prescient, for we are cognisant of those from the Reformed Faith, who by geography alone found themselves subject to Home Rule, and whose right to practice their faith without let or hindrance was ravaged by the intolerance of a Free State then Republic. We maintain today that civil liberties, human rights and religious tolerance are integral to the DNA of the United Kingdom and the maintenance of our traditions are best served thus. We need only look at the present day Home Rulers and their intolerance of our culture to catch a glimpse of our fate without the safeguards afforded by our British heritage.
We reaffirm today the disastrous consequence of Home Rule to our cherished position of full and equal citizenship within the United Kingdom. We do so, flesh of the planters, invoked by the King to the outpost of Britain’s Isles; chosen for their resolve, for their work ethic and their willingness to toil; their adherence to a faith which formed the backbone of their being; they who enriched and created, who fought and who suffered. It is fitting that they who formed the most willing pioneers for an emergent Britain would give life to the generations still most vocal in its defence. The concept of citizenship, defined across this Kingdom and shaped in no small part by the toil and the blood of our countrymen remains our most priceless heritage. It underpinned the Covenant and it underpins our identity and resolve today.
One hundred years ago, mass crowds signed the Covenant here in Belfast; but they did too in Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Bristol. It is fitting that as we stand in their footprints, we do so in the presence of many from those cities, still as one in defence of our citizenship and still committed to the shared values upon which our Union is founded. Whilst our forbears feared the perilous impact of Home Rule on the Empire; as a coalition of the willing, in this Kingdom and its Commonwealth, we are firm in the knowledge that our constitutional destiny is today within our control.
The inalienable right to democratic expression, secured first by the Covenanters in War and inherent now to our cherished citizenship, offers us a constitutional guarantee against subjugation. But let us be clear today; if we are to face again such threatened calamity, which would endanger our democratic rights; we also resolve to stand by one another, for ourselves and for our children, and resist by all means which may be found necessary any effort to suppress our rights. That pledge was given 100 years ago; it has been honoured over the past century and for as long as Covenanter blood courses the veins of our countrymen we will be prepared to honour that oath in the future.
We can be content today, 100 years on, knowing that those who inspired, framed and signed the Covenant have bequeathed a lasting legacy; through their efforts and ours the Union remains safe. So let us look forward to another century in the Union; let our generation leave the legacy of equal citizenship, civil liberty and well being to our descendents. With democracy as the foundation, and our constitutional position secure, let us embrace the next century with hope, free from siege where we can stride confidently toward opportunity and progress, certain that 100 years hence, Ulster’s Union, like the spirit of Ulster’s Covenant, will remain.
Thank you very much,
Sandy Row. Ulster Day, 29th September 2012.
Here at this memorial to the patriotic dead of two World Wars, which serves as the emotional heartbeat of Sandy Row, we view in the starkest of reality the commitment, courage, sacrifice and suffering of the people of South Belfast which began 100 years ago today and continued throughout the last century.
From this place, we will march a well trodden path. Passing ground upon which Ulster’s nascent Volunteers once trained. We walk proudly behind the Boyne Standard, carried by Ensign Watson afore the combined forces of King William III at the Battle of the Boyne. Cherished as an item of incalculable historical value, it was offered by his descendent Mrs Burgess Watson, and presented by Col Wallace to his illustrious leader, The Right Hon Sir Edward Carson. Carried before the ranks of Ulster’s Volunteer City Hall Guards, the lineage of our presence today can be no more stark.
As we walk in the shadow of the banner, we can be firm in our minds that from the Boyne to the Home Rule Crisis, war in Northern Europe to insurrection in Northern Ireland – the people of Ulster have held firm, and we have never, ever, broke faith.
Gentlemen, march with pride; march with the wind of history at your backs and the spirit of Ulster’s Covenant at your core.
Could I now ask Rev Edith Quirey to lead us in dedication of the Boyne Standard.