Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, was, rightly, quick to dismiss Sinn Féin’s
attempted distraction predictably opportunistic call for a border poll following the EU referendum result. Here’s what she told Radio Ulster listeners
“The Good Friday Agreement sets out the conditions under which I am required to call for a border poll – those are when I believe that there’s a reasonable likelihood that there would be a majority for a united Ireland,” [Theresa Villiers] said.
“There’s nothing to indicate that that would be the case – quite the contrary, the research and opinion polls have tended all to make it very clear that the majority in Northern Ireland support the political settlement under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and hence Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.”
Additionally, on the night of the count, both Lee Reynolds of the Leave campaign, and Tom Kelly of Remain, acknowledged the somewhat cross-community nature of the vote to the BBC NI’s Mark Devenport. Furthermore, Sinn Féin national chairman, Declan Kearney, MLA, whilst contriving to blame Brexit on “partition”, and complaining of a “democratic deficit”, also told Mark Devenport that “both republican and unionist, catholic and protestant, those of no faith background” had voted for Remain. I’ll return to the “democratic deficit” in a later post.
The helpful people on the BBC’s EU referendum team also provided a Reality Check on a referendum for a united Ireland.
None of which prevented Sinn Féin issuing seven separate press releases yesterday on the same topic. [For seven separate audiences? – Ed] Perhaps…
What was notable amongst the seven, in comparison to, say, Gerry Adams’ call for an “all-island, all-Ireland view”, was Martin McGuinness’ hypocritical [and partitionist? – Ed] complaint that “the people of the north of Ireland” were being “[dragged] out of the European Union against our democratically expressed wishes” when Sinn Féin continues to campaign for an unconstitutional all-island referendum on a united Ireland – which has the potential to see “the people of the north of Ireland” “[dragged] out of the [United Kingdom] against our democratically expressed wishes”.
But, perhaps, the best response to Sinn Féin”s attempted distraction came from Taoiseach Enda Kenny – as the Irish News reports
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said there was no evidence of a shift in the Northern Ireland electorate that would prompt a border poll.
“There is no such evidence,” Mr Kenny said.
“There are much more serious issues to deal with in the immediate terms and that is where our focus is.” [added emphasis]
Indeed – redux.