Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 13:08 UK

DUP launches election manifesto

DUP leader Peter Robinson launches the party's General Election 2010 Manifesto at the Ulster Hall in Belfast

The DUP has called on voters to increase its Westminster team from nine to 10 MPs.

Party leader Peter Robinson said this was "in order to ensure Northern Ireland has a strong voice in the event of a hung parliament".

Mr Robinson launched his party's manifesto which included a demand for Northern Ireland to be treated as a special economic zone within the UK.

The DUP won nine seats in the 2005 general election.

On Monday, Mr Robinson said that this is the first time the DUP manifesto has concentrated on the economy as the primary issue - evidence in his view of how far Northern Ireland has come.

The party wants a reduction of local corporation tax without any compensating cut in the amount of money Northern Ireland gets from Westminster and VAT on construction work cut to just 5% to boost the building trade.

If there is a hung parliament, Mr Robinson said he "could work with Labour or the Tories - but only if they meet DUP demands".

'Key themes'

Mr Robinson told supporters in the Ulster Hall in Belfast: "The determination of the DUP has helped deliver a present-day infinitely better than our recent past with the prospects of a future, brighter still".

"And in the next Parliament, a strong united DUP team will continue that progress. The ever-growing potential for a hung Parliament offers unprecedented opportunities for a focused cohesive unionist bloc in the House of Commons."

He added: "It is the DUP that is the only party who are free to act in such circumstances."

The manifesto contains two "key themes".

The first one is "building stability and prosperity in Northern Ireland through improved and more efficient local political institutions".

The second one is "directing resources in public services towards preventative and early intervention measures, and frontloading funding for the first few years of life".

The main points of the DUP manifesto include:

• Economy: Create wealth generating export oriented economy; reduced corporation tax; 5% VAT rate for construction; special economic zone status for NI; establish Invention and Innovation Institute.

• Business: Reduce regulatory burden on business; improve basic skills; overhaul public sector procurement; single government department for economy; create jobs; more small business start-ups; tackle late payments.

• Education: Pilot Child-Parent Centres based on Chicago model; extra funding in primary schools and more classroom assistants; enhance extended schools programmes; increase youth services budget; pupils matched to post-primary school on basis of ability; end special privileges for integrated and Irish medium sectors; single body to own and promote controlled schools.

• Health: Increase spending on prevention and early intervention; NICE to focus more on identifying non-cost effective practice; screening programme for prostate cancer; broaden opportunities for charities and other proven providers to deliver care; create unit to co-ordinate multiple hospital attendances of older people; address failure to meet cancer waiting times; access psychological therapies within two weeks.

• Environment: More renewable energy; develop renewable heat sector; achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction obligations; prevent species decline and habitat destruction; more allotment provision.

• Crime and policing: More neighbourhood police officers visible; new NI sentencing framework; reduce legal aid bill; more fixed penalties for ASB; fewer prisoners on remand; support extended pre-charge detention.


Click here to read the DUP Manifesto

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