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Irish unity is best idea around, insists SDLP leader Eastwood

By Staff Reporter

Published 21/07/2016

Colum Eastwood
Colum Eastwood

Irish reunification is the "biggest and best idea around" and must now be considered in the light of Brexit, the SDLP leader has said.

Party leader Colum Eastwood was speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal, where Taoiseach Enda Kenny had earlier suggested a future vote on Irish unity in the wake of Brexit.

Mr Kenny had said a border poll may take place if there was clear evidence a majority of Northern Irish citizens wanted to remain within the EU and leave the UK.

The Foyle MLA Mr Eastwood described the fact that a border poll is now firmly on the political agenda as a "natural and welcome development".

And he said that "political life can no longer afford to presume the permanence of anything" after British voters opted to leave the EU.

"The SDLP, as a party, continues to believe that the reunification of Ireland is the biggest and the best idea around," Mr Eastwood said.

"However, if the Brexit result and the demise of David Cameron has also taught us, it is that we should make sure to fight referenda that we are confident of winning.

"Scottish independence campaigners produced a 670-page document outlining the path to independent nationhood and how it would operate.

"It was credible and detailed.

"Irish nationalism now needs to start on its page one."

Mr Eastwood's remarks pit his party firmly in the opposite corner to the DUP.

The party's North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley, has already castigated Mr Kenny's referendum suggestion, describing his comments "pathetic and mischievous".

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