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SF to press Secretary of State over border poll

By Noel McAdam

Sinn Fein is set to increase its demands for a border poll following the party's ground-breaking success in the Assembly election.

It is believed the republican party will put pressure on Secretary of State James Brokenshire to give the go-ahead for another poll on Irish unity at some point.

But Mr Brokenshire has made clear he will only do so on the basis of clear evidence that there is now a majority in favour of a united Ireland.

"We are not at that point yet," a Government source said.

The election, however, has considerably strengthened Sinn Fein's hand in negotiations and the party has already made clear it wants a border poll.

Sinn Fein returned to the issue in the aftermath of the Brexit vote last June and during the recent election campaign DUP leader Arlene Foster warned that success for republicans would mean they would use their "massive mandate" to demand a "divisive and destabilising" poll.

Her colleague, former Economy Minister Simon Hamilton, yesterday said he did not want to see any barriers put up in the way of restoring the institutions.

"I have heard a lot from Sinn Fein over the last number of weeks about respect, but they are not respecting the mandate that the DUP has received and that mandate endorsed Arlene Foster," he added.

But, as Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill wrote to the other parties over the weekend, party president Gerry Adams said it had been a "watershed election".

He said: "This has brought an end to the unionist majority in the Assembly. It has also demolished any notion of a perpetual unionist majority. This needs to be reflected in the approach of the unionist parties and the two governments. We will use our mandate wisely to secure equality and respect for all and integrity in the political institutions."

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