The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) chose an industrial area in one of their core areas of Craigavon in the Upper Bann constituency to launch their election manifesto.
He carefully observed that the general election is only six days away and the six-week campaign has been relatively boring.
It was also a difficult attempt to vote for the DUP, which collapsed the power-sharing executive over its opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Sinn Féin has been consistently ahead of the DUP in opinion polls for months, signaling the possibility of the Republican party holding the position of First Minister for the first time since the creation of the Northern Ireland institutions.
The DUP has lost votes on all sides – its more progressive supporters are turning to the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP),
while conservative voters are turning to the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV).
Party leader Jeffrey Donaldson’s release of her manifesto was a chance to breathe some life into her stalled campaign.
But it didn’t bode well that the friendly forklift driver who gave the final directions to the event at AJ Power’s headquarters said he was a longtime DUP supporter… but had chosen to go for local MOT candidate Darrin this time vote for Foster. For what it’s worth, AJ Power is involved in the manufacture of diesel generators and the venue was chosen to highlight the DUP’s commitment to boosting the economy.
Her manifesto doesn’t often mention climate change, but promises “groundbreaking legislation” in the area while also committing to phase out fossil fuels.
They wonder where diesel generators fit into the party’s environmental plans.
Inside the venue, the candidates took their positions on the stage in front of a large banner setting out the DUP’s ‘five point plan’ to make Northern Ireland a great place to live. If you think this sounds familiar, well it’s a well-worn campaign slogan, last used by Fine Gael during the 2011 general election campaign on these shores, but I don’t think Donaldson will do the honors to Enda Kenny.
After everyone was seated, Mr Donaldson, or Sir Jeffrey as the BBC likes to call him, walked into the room and seemingly caught his colleagues off guard as they had to be persuaded to applaud their leader’s not-so-great performance.
After the party leader took his seat, North Antrim MLA and DUP Elections Director Gordon Lyons delivered the opening remarks.
Lyon’s speech had one primary goal – to scare union voters into coming down the polls to vote for the DUP, to ensure Sinn Féin doesn’t become the largest party and force a border election.
He also had a warning for voters thinking of supporting the other union parties. Lyons said only the DUP can become the largest unionist party in the power-sharing executive and voting elsewhere risks diluting votes, although he encouraged supporters to unionize after voting for the DUP.
He said Sinn Féin’s only goal was to hold a “divisive border poll” as soon as possible and insisted they had no interest in the region’s day-to-day issues.
He said that while visiting stores in the US during St. Patrick’s Day, he was surprised by the number of people asking about Sinn Féin ads in the US New York Times and Washington Post calls for a border survey.
He criticized Bobby Storey’s 5,000-person funeral in the middle of the pandemic, at a time when only 30 people were allowed at funerals, and said Sinn Féin had named playgrounds after IRA members.
Sinn Féin has tried to focus the campaign narrative on the cost of living, but the party’s main focus, publicly or otherwise, is always uniting Ireland.
Mr Donaldson went on to detail some of the proposals contained in the DUP’s 60-page, five-point plan. One of the points of the plan, of course, is the abolition of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which he says will increase the cost of living in the North by raising the price of goods arriving from Britain.
Others suggest that the impact of the protocol on prices is minimal compared to other factors, notably the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the proxy fuel war that coincided with the war.
After the event, Mr Lyons insisted that the DUP did not suggest that protocol was the only issue driving prices up, but that’s not the impression you got from Donaldson’s speech.
After his speech, Donaldson was challenged by one Irish News Reporters to provide evidence of the protocol driving prices up in the north. Donaldson said prices at Sainsbury’s in the north are higher than in the UK because of the protocol.
The same reporter accidentally called the DUP leader “Gerry” in his opening question. It appears the former Sinn Féin leader is still casting a shadow in elections despite having retired from front-of-house politics. Donaldson said Ian Paisley used to call him Jeremy but said being called Gerry was probably worse.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/trailing-sinn-fein-in-the-polls-dups-five-point-plan-has-six-days-to-lure-unionist-voters-from-uup-and-tuv-41598781.html The DUP’s five-point plan trails Sinn Féin in the polls and has six days to attract union voters from the UUP and TÜV