Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Scottish independence: Future of Union is at stake, says Peter Robinson

Scottish independence concern: Peter Robinson
Scottish independence concern: Peter Robinson

The threat to the future of the Union is at the heart of Stormont parties' views of the Scottish independence referendum.

DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson said he recognised it must be a decision for the people of Scotland, but has clear implications for the rest of the UK.

"The people of Scotland do need to know there are many people throughout the UK that feel they have a very valuable contribution to make to the UK as a whole and want to see them continue to do that," he said.

"Nowhere else in the UK would the bonds be more tightly drawn between any other part of the UK from NI's point of view than with Scotland. Our peoples have moved from one side of that small stretch of water to the other and back many times over the centuries.

"So we have a massive interest and I don't think we can sit idly by and simply indicate that it is a matter for Scotland alone. It will have implications for us all. We hope that Scotland knows just how much we want them to remain within the UK."

Sinn Fein, however, believes a vote in favour of independence would advance their call for a repeat of the border referendum.

West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff told a debate at Stormont sponsored by the New Statesman magazine that Scottish independence would relegate Northern Ireland, along with Wales, to the status of poor relation in a multi-national partnership.

"If Scotland breaks away from the Union, then the Union is no longer what it was... in any partnership with London your needs will be always be very peripheral," he said.

Arguing that the Scottish constitutional debate was already provoking a crisis of identity in Ulster unionism, he added: "All the old certainties are gone."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said Scottish nationalists had achieved more through peaceful means than Irish republicans achieved by 40 years of terrorism.

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