A border poll has the potential to “fire up” dissidents and cause division, DUP MP Gregory Campbell has claimed.
Mr Campbell was responding after Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, on a visit to Londonderry, repeated his party’s call for a united Ireland vote.
Mr Adams claimed that the union with Great Britain offered little to nothing for working-class Protestants.
Speaking as he opened a new party office in Creggan at the weekend, the Irish TD argued that a vote to garner opinions was allowed for under the Good Friday Agreement.
He said that with the people of Scotland now headed for the polls, it was only right and proper that the people here have their say.
He said: “Now is exactly the right time for a debate on ending partition and achieving Irish unity in the context of rebuilding and calibrating the economies of this island into a single island economy in the interests of all our citizens.”
The Sinn Fein leader said his party’s stance was “rooted in our core republican values, especially our belief that citizens’ rights must be protected in legislation, and our vision of a new Republic for this island”.
Mr Adams also argued that unionists could be persuaded that reuniting the island made sense.
“Poverty affects working-class unionists in exactly the same way as nationalists,” he said.
“Unionism is essentially a conservative political tendency with no real concern to serve the interests of poor or disadvantaged people. Many working-class unionist comm-|unities have been abandoned by the main unionist parties.”
Mr Campbell said that even many people who aspire to a united Ireland did not want to join forces with the Republic of Ireland given its current economic woes.
“Given the state of the Irish Republic economy in the past five years I think most people in Northern Ireland, and not just unionists, will look at Gerry Adams comments and see a little bit of irony,” he said.
“Quite a number of people who described themselves as nationalists in the long term want a united Ireland but not in the next 20, 30, 40 years.”
He added that it was “a bit unusual to keep asking a question the answer to which you already know”.
“It would cost millions of pounds and not only would it be an expensive waste of money and resources, it would only cause problems, and the dissidents would be fired up.”