Northern Ireland

DUP founder Wallace Thompson to join panel discussion at Ireland’s Future conference

Evangelical Protestant has previously said new Ireland is ‘inevitable’ when asked about north’s future

DUP founding member Wallace Thompson. Picture by Paul Faith/PA Wire
DUP founding member Wallace Thompson. Picture by Paul Faith/PA Wire DUP founding member Wallace Thompson. Picture: Paul Faith/PA Wire

DUP founding member Wallace Thompson is due to take part in a panel discussion at an Ireland’s Future event this summer.

The veteran unionist and evangelical Protestant will join other panel guests at the Pathway to Change event hosted by Ireland’s Future at Belfast’s SSE Arena on June 15.

The gathering is set to be the largest Ireland’s Future event to be held in the north, and will see participants including former UDA member and Belfast councillor for the now defunct UDA-linked Ulster Democratic Party, David Adams.

Ireland’s Future initially announced in a post to the X social media platform on Thursday that Mr Wallace was appearing at the even as a “guest speaker”. The post was later removed and the organisation clarified Mr Wallace was a panel guest alongside David Adams, former Alliance Party leader Lord John Alderdice, and writer Claire Mitchell.

Mr Wallace, a staunch ally of the late fellow DUP founder and former leader Ian Paisley, was also an advisor to former DUP MP Nigel Dodds.

Last year he made headlines when he gave his thoughts on the future of the north’s constitutional position.

In September he told the Belfast Telegraph that he believed a form of Irish unity was “inevitable”, and said he believed unionism was “always in many ways doomed because of Ireland’s nature”.

His comments were made months after he told BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme when asked if he believed evangelical Protestantism would have a healthier future in a united Ireland: “I’m not sure. But it’s something I think needs to be pursued.”

Following the interview he told the Newsletter he would be “open to conversation with anyone” when asked if he would consider speaking at an Ireland’s Future event.

He told the newspaper: “I’ve seen some of their gatherings and they’ve been heavily criticised for, again, talking within themselves.

“I know that to some of my fellow Protestants and unionists I’ll probably seen as weak on this. There are those who say there’s no point in talking about a united Ireland or a new Ireland we’re not interested in it. And what is the point in talking about something you don’t ever want to see come about.”

He added: “But life isn’t always about what we’d like to see coming about or not coming.”

The event in June is described by organisers as a “major international conference”.

A spokesperson said of the gathering: “It is imperative that we all engage in the conversation and ensure that society is ready for the change that our island will soon undergo.”