Belfast Telegraph

Paterson confirms 'no border poll'

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said he has "no intention" of calling a border poll "at the moment" as he underlined the Government's belief and commitment in a United Kingdom.

Mr Paterson told MPs in the Commons the Government would "always back the democratic wishes" of the people of Northern Ireland, adding that "what we can achieve together will always be much more than we can ever do apart".

Mr Paterson said with 2.8% of the UK population, Northern Ireland "benefits enormously" from being part of the UK.

He added that an opinion poll conducted by Queen's University showed 82.6% wanted to remain in the UK and "only" 17.4% wanted a united Ireland.

His comments came as DUP parliamentary group leader Nigel Dodds said the UK itself had been "strengthened and enriched" by the contribution of the people of Northern Ireland.

He asked Mr Paterson to confirm that he had "no intention whatsoever" of organising any kind of border poll in Northern Ireland given the "levels of satisfaction" with the current constitutional settlement.

Mr Paterson replied: "I think I can reassure him, I have the right to call a poll as Secretary of State when I feel like it, I have an obligation to call a poll when there's a clear indication there would be a vote for a united Ireland.

"At 17.4% and the fact that I've hardly had a single phone call, email or letter on this issue I really have no intention of calling a poll at the moment and we should concentrate on the economy and building a shared future, that's the real priority of people in Northern Ireland."

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