The reconstituted NI Conservatives were launched as “a fresh, pro-Union, centre-right party, which is proudly and distinctively Northern Irish”, in Belfast this morning, with the Secretary of State, Owen Paterson in attendance.
The new party will be autonomous on devolved issues, but remain a full part of the UK Conservative Party. In a message which he sent to the event, Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, said it would “offer local voters centre-right politics, with a Northern Irish accent”.
NI Conservatives chairman, Irwin Armstrong, expressed his hope that the party’s launch would mark “an important moment in the development of politics in Northern Ireland”.
“We believe that people are most concerned about issues like jobs, education, health and creating a shared society”, Irwin explained. “Today we unveiled a team of spokespeople who will cover the policy areas devolved to Stormont and we’ll be offering practical, common sense policies which can contribute to getting the economy moving and creating a happy, diverse Northern Ireland.”
Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, said the party, “will stand up for Northern Ireland and put Northern Ireland first. But it’s also a party that will play its full part in the mainstream of United Kingdom politics. Nobody here should be in any doubt about my support for bringing national politics to Northern Ireland. People in Northern Ireland should be able to vote for parties that take decisions over their lives at Stormont. And they should be able to vote for parties that govern them in Westminster too.”