DUP manifesto 2017: What the Democratic Unionist Party stands for and will bring to parliament

From Brexit ideals to same-sex marriage, what will a newly empowered DUP mean for the UK?

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Questions are being asked about the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is set to hold the balance of power in the new Parliament after Theresa May failed to win a majority in the General Election.

The Northern Irish party, whose website has been down since the results were announced, has indicated that it will agree to give the Conservatives its support to form a government after the party won ten seats last night, marking one of its best election results ever.

There are now fears the DUP-Tory alliance could enable the party — widely accused of regressive, homophobic and misogynistic policies — to introduce policies that have become controversial in Northern Ireland.

The DUP, which is the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the fifth-largest in the House of Commons, outlines seven main aims in its 2017 manifesto. There are also a number of significant issues it fails to mention.

Here is what the DUP's manifesto tells us about the party that could soon be co-leading the UK:

Brexit

The DUP is staunchly pro-Leave, being the only mainstream party in Northern Ireland to have backed Brexit, despite the region voting to remain.

The DUP's manifesto states that the party will work "to get the best deal for Northern Ireland", stating: "In the new Parliament, Northern Ireland needs to have a strong, united DUP team arguing the case for our people."

Brexit is also seen as favourable to the DUP due to its commitment to Unionism, although leader Arlene Foster having spoken against it and expressed her hopes of  avoiding a hard border with Ireland, in order to "respect the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland, and, of course, our shared history and geography with the Republic of Ireland."

Like many Brexiteers, the party wants to end the supremacy of the EU’s highest court and argues that Britain should regain the freedom to make global trade deals, which would require leaving the EU’s single market — something Ms May also hopes to do.

Theresa May to form new government with DUP support

Economy

In their manifesto, the DUP called for the “triple lock” on pensions to be retained, going against one of the Conservatives' most controversial manifesto pledges.

It also states that it is essential the benefits of economic growth are “felt by everyone, everywhere”, calling for an increase in the national living wage, a further increase to personal tax allowance and safeguarding universal benefits in Northern Ireland.

The manifesto also calls for an “industrial renaissance” in the region, saying it wants to build in its manufacturing base to increase competitiveness and ensure inclusive growth. It goes on to say it wants to “sell Northern Ireland to the world” and “ make tourism a £1 billion industry”.

Security

The DUP states that it “does not believe that the present defence arrangements for the UK are adequate enough to cope with the emerging threats in the 21st Century”, and calls for a new national security and strategic defence review.

It stands for maintaining the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent and supports participation in NATO, but “shares the American concerns that other members are consistently failing to fulfil the minimum spending target.”

The manifesto also states that there should be a review of current terrorism legislation and an expansion of cybersecurity research in Northern Ireland.

Same-sex marriage

The DUP doesn't mention same-sex marriage in its manifesto, but the party has repeatedly vetoed marriage equality for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland.

Its members have also made a string of homophobic comments, including branding LGBT people as “disgusting” and an “abomination”.

Arlene Foster on gay marriage: "I believe in union between a man and a woman"

The party tabled a “petition of concern” following a vote to legalise same-sex marriage last May, meaning the proposal could only succeed if a sufficient number of both unionist and nationalist members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) backed it.

While 41 nationalists backed the proposal, it was approved by only four unionists, meaning it could not pass. 

In 2015, the party's health minister faced criticism when he said: “The facts show that you certainly don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship. That child is far more likely to be abused or neglected.”

Abortion

The DUP doesn't mention abortion in its manifesto, but it has been open in its support for Northern Ireland’s abortion ban, which sees women imprisoned for having one and denied access to safe and legal terminations.

Ms Foster has said the party remains opposed to any reform of the province’s notoriously strict abortion laws, urging last year that she would “not want abortion to be as freely available here as it is in England“.

Under a 1945 law, women in the region have access to terminations that provides abortion if their life is at risk or her health is at serious risk. But foetal abnormalities, rape and incest are not considered circumstances under which abortions can be legally performed.

The ban on abortion was recently ruled a breach of international human rights law by the Belfast High Court, but it remained in place because DUP and other Northern Irish arties voted against change.

Climate change

The DUP manifesto made no mention of the environment or climate change. It calls only for a "secure and sustainable energy supply for Northern Ireland", saying the party is "encouraged" by recent planning applications for new power stations and see this as a sign that the market is "responding positively and that the issues with security of supply can be addressed."

The party appointed a climate change denier as Northern Ireland environment minister, and a number of creationists are among its senior members.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson, who has previously served as Northern Ireland’s environment minister, has said people would eventually “look back at this whole climate change debate and ask ourselves how on Earth were we ever conned into spending the billions of pounds” on the issue.

Devolution

The party commits to restoring devolution, stating its belief that Northern Ireland “needs a working Assembly and Executive as the best form of government for all of our people” in the manifesto.

It states the primary reasons for this are to help the region achieve the best deal with Brexit, to get a Budget put in place, to protect in the education system and to attract investment and jobs to Northern Ireland.

Identity

In a section of the manifesto titled “A Real Respect Agenda”, the DUP states that progress is sought to halt the “hollowing out Ulster’s Britishness” and promote a “greater embracing” of it, as well as calling for more recognition of Northern Ireland's military services.

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