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Dame Arlene Foster
Garrett Hargan Twitter Email
Former DUP leader Dame Arlene Foster has urged people across the UK to join together and promote the benefits of the union as she officially launched Together UK in London.
She told those gathered at a private event last night for Together UK that the foundation wants to communicate the UK’s “everyday benefits every day consistently and persistently”.
Together UK did not confirm who was in attendance at the event but Dame Arlene previously said there would be up to 100 “people of influence”.
The foundation’s website went live at 7pm last night as those behind it aim to counter a growing movement calling for the re-unification of Ireland.
Together UK launched on September 5 in Belfast.
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The foundation describes itself as a not-for-profit, non-party political organisation with an all-female board of trustees, which comprises of Baroness Foster, Sheila Davidson, Sangeeta Waldron, Alison Rankin-Frost and Melanie Hampton, with Patrons Lady Jane Grosvenor and Jeff Edwards MBE.
The UK Together event coincides with an Ireland’s Future event at Ulster Hall in Belfast where the audience will hear speakers advocate for, promote, debate and discuss Ireland’s future, including the possibility and viability of new constitutional arrangements on the Island.
The Together UK website says the foundation is inclusive of all cultural and political backgrounds within the UK, with the aim to provide a unifying voice that is informed, independent and factually based.
“Whether it is in relation to financial stability and pension security; continued support for a thriving NHS; an education service that equitably supports our young people to academic or vocational success or an environment that challenges climate change, we know that we are stronger together,” it states.
“We want everyone to be involved in making vital decisions about our lives and our society and over the coming months we will be commissioning research and launching new initiatives. Your experiences, views and ideas will feed into practical and achievable plans for change.”
Speaking in London, Dame Arlene began by offering inspiration from the words of a Republican.
“You need not fret, I have not abandoned my belief in the United Kingdom nor in the monarchy, it is an American Republican, Ronald Reagan,” she said.
“At the 1964 Republican Convention Reagan argued: ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same’.
“His warning that an idea held in common by so many that has been fought for, secured and whose value is self-evident can face fresh assault, be undermined by fair means and foul and waste away if it is taken for granted. The case for an idea must be renewed with each new generation, its relevance secured with each new generation and its value communicated to each new generation.
“The Together UK Foundation wants to be a key partner in that generational renewal of the United Kingdom.”
The GB News presenter added: “The Foundation wants to offer the ideas for our best future such as how do we tackle the common problem of low productivity and how we deepen relationships with a rising economic superpower such as India.
“The Foundation wishes to engage with the public in every art and part of the UK.
“Some may claim the people don’t care but if I may be indulged one Northern Ireland reference, since 1998 the British Social Attitudes Survey shows percentage of people in GB who want my home to remain part of the UK has almost doubled since 1998, overturning a past majority that support it to be absorbed by the Republic of Ireland.
“The Foundation wants to communicate the UK’s everyday benefits every day consistently and persistently.
“The everyday is easily overlooked or taken for granted. The work of generational renewal will be pursued in common with many other groups, parties and individuals.”
This pan-UK movement and work, she said, must be driven by openness and a “common belief and commitment” to the UK and Britishness, to see it flourish economically, socially, politically and culturally, and to see each part and every citizen make their full contribution while enjoying its “full benefits and protections”.
Dame Arlene continued: “Opinions may vary in the means to achieve those but what equally unites us is that separatism in whatever form is not the answer.
“A common trait of the separatist factions is their belief that their victory is an historic inevitability. It enables them to carry on regardless of failure after failure but makes them inflexible on means. We know the future is not written but we know how it can be.
“Tonight, let us all commit: To supporting the Together UK Foundation. To contribute to and promote its work to renew the United Kingdom for a new generation.
“This is how we will all write the best future for the Union of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
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