James Brokenshire Speech at the launch of the Conservative Manifesto for Northern Ireland Launch on Tuesday 30 May 2017, pictured here with East Belfast candidate Sheila Bodel, Lagan Valley candidate Ian Nickels, North Down candidate Frank Shivers and East Antrim candidate Mark Logan
Just a week ago we awoke to hear the sickening news of the brutal terrorist attack in Manchester.
News that bright, young lives had been cut short by an act of wanton murder.
Of innocent children killed and maimed.
Of families searching for loved ones.
Of the feelings of anguish and pain at an act of cold, calculated evil.
And since then the sense of community in Manchester and beyond coming together, standing together.
Underlining that those who seek to divide us, those who would seek to destroy our very way of life and the values that define us will not succeed.
And of course we must continue to have in our minds those mourning the loss of those near to them and the need for continued support to them as well as those recovering from the physical or mental trauma of the effects of the attack.
Whilst the threat level from international terrorism has now been reduced from critical to severe, we must continue to be vigilant.
As Secretary of State I have remained in close contact with the PSNI and other agencies on the action being taken here in Northern Ireland.
I have also spoken to the Irish government on how we can strengthen our work together to guard against the threat.
National security is our utmost priority and will continue to be so.
It is why we have protected funding to national security and are increasing those working in our intelligence agencies by 1,900.
Why we have strengthened our laws and strengthened our systems to better identify and track those travelling to or from areas of conflict or ungoverned space.
Why we will work to see that social media and digital technology is not allowed to foment or encourage terrorism.
This is a generational challenge against a twisted ideology that wishes to destroy our very way of life.
And as a party we will always be resolute and consistent in standing up against those who seek to use terrorism or violence to advance their aims and in supporting measures to tackle them.
It’s a great honour for me to launch the Conservative Party’s manifesto for Northern Ireland at this General Election.
And I’m proud to be backing our Conservative candidates in this part of the United Kingdom.
We are the only national party prepared to give people here the chance to vote for a party that can form their government at Westminster.
And I am very pleased that we are.
Nobody should be in any doubt … that this is the most important election the United Kingdom has faced in a lifetime.
In a period of great change and uncertainty, this is about who will form the next United Kingdom Government and who will be the Prime Minister to take us through the UK’s departure from the EU and beyond.
Only Theresa May has the leadership and the programme for a stronger Northern Ireland, a stronger United Kingdom and a prosperous future.
The choice could not be clearer.
It’s a choice between the experience, stability and leadership of Theresa May acting in the national interest or the chaos of a government under Jeremy Corbyn who simply isn’t up the job.
Jeremy Corbyn who would unleash economic chaos with higher taxes, out of control spending, more debt and higher unemployment.
And those who would suffer most are the least well off and ordinary working families.
It’s a fantasy programme that would hit every part of the country.
But the risk of it coming about is no fantasy.
Only six parliamentary seats need to change for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn to be able to form a government… only eleven days before the EU wants to start negotiations on the Brexit deal.
The hopes, aspirations and opportunities for millions of people across our country depend on getting the next five years right.
That’s just as much the case here in Northern Ireland as it is in the rest of the United Kingdom.
So people in Northern Ireland can play their part in ensuring that we have strong and stable leadership for the next five years.
By backing Theresa May, by backing her team and by backing the Conservatives at this General Election.
As our Northern Ireland manifesto sets out, as Conservatives we believe that Northern Ireland’s future is best served within a stronger United Kingdom.
We will never be neutral in expressing our support for the Union.
At the same time we will always uphold the principle that Northern Ireland’s future will only ever be determined by democracy and consent.
Our backing for the Belfast Agreement and its successors … the institutions they establish … and the principles that underpin them … remain steadfast.
Conservatives are a party of devolution.
We believe that decisions over local services are best taken by local politicians … in locally accountable political institutions.
And I am convinced that people in Northern Ireland want to see a fully functioning Executive and Assembly.
Just before parliament was dissolved we legislated to extend the deadline for the formation of an Executive to 29 June.
That give us just three weeks after polling.
So our first priority will be to work intensively to support the re-establishment of a strong, stable and inclusive partnership government at Stormont.
That is what the public voted for in March and that is what Northern Ireland needs.
So I say to the parties in the Assembly come together, work together.
The scope for agreement is clear.
The opportunity for delivery is firmly in view.
The responsibility on the parties is to make it happen.
Focus on those issues that unite rather than divide and get back into an Executive with a common sense of purpose to deliver for the people who voted you there and want to see devolved government working for Northern Ireland at this critical time.
Just eleven days after the General Election the EU wants to start its Brexit negotiations with the UK.
And there are two choices Theresa May sitting down with our European partners, leading those negotiations in the national interest or Jeremy Corby.
Only Theresa May has a clear plan for Brexit and the ability to deliver… including for Northern Ireland.
Keeping the Common Travel Area.
Ensuring we have as seamless and frictionless a border as possible between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Upholding rights to identity set out in the Belfast Agreement.
Maintaining the special status of Irish citizens in the UK and protect reciprocal arrangements for British citizens in Ireland.
Securing effective arrangements for continued electricity supply on the island of Ireland.
Supporting farmers and replacing EU structural funds with a UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
And maintaining security co-operation that’s so important in the fight against terrorism.
Every vote for Theresa May and her team will be a vote to strengthen the UK’s hand in the tough negotiations to come.
A vote for Theresa May and her team is a vote to continue building a Northern Ireland economy that works for everyone.
Since 2010 we’ve seen significantly more people in Northern Ireland in work … with employment during the past year at record levels.
Unemployment is down to levels not seen since before Labour’s great recession.
Northern Ireland exports are up.
Northern Ireland remains one of the most favoured parts of the UK for inward investment … with 22 new companies coming here in the past year.
And over the past seven year we’ve maintained generous funding support for Northern Ireland.
The Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements provide the Executive with up to £2.5 billion in additional spending power.
The current block grant allocation for the 2017-18 financial year is £11 billion in cash terms.
Public spending per head is some 21 per cent above the UK average.
But there’s much more to do if … working with the Northern Ireland Executive … we’re to strengthen the economy further.
To see further business investment, to improve productivity and create the enterprise driven economy which is in Northern Ireland’s long-term interest.
So, yes, a new Conservative Government remains committed to the devolution of Corporation Tax powers to the Executive.
We believe it has the potential to transform the Northern Ireland economy … bring new jobs and spread prosperity across the community.
But for that to happen we need to have an Executive in place … with its finances on a sound and sustainable footing.
We also want to work with an Executive to explore the potential for city deals.
And we will work with an incoming Executive, business and industry to maximise the positive impact that our modern industrial strategy can have in Northern Ireland creating high-skilled jobs and helping businesses to grow and prosper.
A vote for Theresa May and her team is a vote to address the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past.
We will continue to seek the implementation of the legacy bodies in the Stormont House Agreement as the best way to provide better outcomes for victims and survivors.
And we will ensure that these bodies work in ways that are fair, balanced and proportionate and do not unfairly focus on former soldiers or police officers.
A new Conservative Government will seek to build on the progress made in the Stormont House Agreement and in subsequent discussions.
And as soon as possible after the election we will publish detailed proposals for consultation.
A vote for Theresa May and her team is also a vote to keep Northern Ireland safe and secure.
We all know the severe threat still faced by society from dissident republican terrorists.
And sadly there are too many reminders of the scourge of so called paramiliatarism in both republican and loyalist communities.
I say so-called paramilitarism because what we actually see is vigilantism, organised crime and brutal thuggery and violence.
Rather than protecting or defending communities these crime gangs leave them with fear, blight lives and deny opportunity.
So a Conservative Government will continue to give the fullest possible support to the Police Service of Northern Ireland and other agencies that do such a superb job protecting the public.
And we’ll continue working with the Executive on a strategy to end paramilitarism and put an end to the gangs who prey on communities and hold society back.
This manifesto sets out the vision of a Conservative Party that cares deeply about Northern Ireland as a very special part of the United Kingdom.
It’s our plan for a stronger Northern Ireland, a stronger United Kingdom and a prosperous future.
A peaceful, more stable and united Northern Ireland.
A Northern Ireland where everyone is given the chance to go wherever their talents will take them.
A modern, dynamic, outward looking Northern Ireland built on respect.
A Northern Ireland which under Theresa May and her team will have that strong and stable leadership in the national interest.
A Northern Ireland where if we go forward, together, we shall succeed.