Villiers: “It is crucial that political leaders here concentrate on working together on pressing economic and social issues…”

Both the Irish and British Governments have given their answer to Sinn Féin’s fanciful notion of a border poll[Catch yourselves on? – Ed]  Indeed.  Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil

“I think we have a lot of work to do both here and up North before people’s mentality and views change about the future of the island,” he told Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

The Taoiseach said it was a matter for the British government to decide whether to agree to have a Border poll now or not.

“Clearly if that were to happen, depending on the result, we would have to consider what would happen here, but I don’t think now is the time to do it.”

And from a separate Irish Times report

Any plebiscite is strictly within the gift of the Northern secretary as laid out in the Belfast Agreement. The secretary of state may order a referendum if he or she believes there is evidence of a desire for a change in the constitutional status.

In a statement Ms Villiers said this was not the case.

“Given the state of opinion in Northern Ireland, which is clearly expressed in election results and opinion polls, the Government has no present plans to call such a poll.

It is crucial that political leaders here concentrate on working together on pressing economic and social issues, including the rebalancing of the NI economy and building a genuinely shared society, rather than being diverted into divisive, constitutional debates.” [added emphasis]

Well, as Mark Devenport points out

Whether it’s a him or a her, my reading of the law is that the Northern Ireland secretary “may” call a border poll at any time. However, if there’s clear evidence that a majority of people in Northern Ireland want to leave the UK and join a united Ireland, then the agreement places a duty on the secretary of state who “shall” arrange a referendum.

But if Gerry Adams is as keen to “test it” as he claims, and the DUP are as willing to play along as Arlene Foster suggested, the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers could always organise a, non-binding, referendum glorified opinion poll of their own.  They’ve done it before.  Might be more difficult to game the result

In the meantime, there’s some governing administrating to be done.

Adds  And, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s a journey to be undertaken…

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