Belfast Telegraph

Calls for border poll 'breach' Good Friday Agreement and we're not 'molly coddled,' says DUP after Johnson meeting

Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

The DUP accused those calling for a border poll of being in breach of the Good Friday Agreement and slammed Sinn Fein's assertion they are being "molly coddled" by Boris Johnson.

Last week, the Taoiseach claimed a no-deal Brexit could lead to a border poll and the break-up of the United Kingdom, while Sinn Fein has repeatedly call for such a vote.

Following a meeting with the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Stormont, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said Mr Varadkar, and those who have called for a border poll, were in breach of the Good Friday Agreement as the conditions for a poll have not been met.

A poll can only be called if the secretary of state thinks it would result in a vote for a united Ireland.  

"Those who advocate and talk [a border poll] up are actually in breach of the very agreements they say they stand by and want implemented by others," said Mr Dodds.

"Those people who call for a border poll are clearly in breach of the Belfast Agreement, and it that sense Leo Varadkar is in breach of the agreement by talking it up."

Mr Dodds also rebuffed the idea that some unionists could be persuaded to support a united Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

He said: "The reality is that the conditions for a border poll have not been met... Let's get real here, the idea that many unionists would turn round and support a united Ireland on the basis of the current developments is something that is not reflected in the reality of the people on the ground.

LIVE: DUP reaction to meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Posted by Belfast Telegraph on Wednesday, July 31, 2019

"Instead of creating an air of hysteria about all this we need to get Stormont back up and running, we need to get Brexit delivered in a sensible way and we need to work with the Government to strengthen the Union."

DUP Arlene Foster branded the Taoiseach's comments "project fear mark two".

"He needs to dial down the rehtoric. He needs to recognise the mandate of the Prime Minister, and he needs to engage. We have tried to engage with him on a number of occasions on Brexit and he hasn't," she said.

"The Prime Minister also reiterated the fact that he will never be neutral on the Union, and we welcome that. He will, of course, be neutral on the government here in Northern Ireland and you shouldn't confuse the two.

"Today I have heard those two matters being confused quite regularly. [Boris Johnson] will never be neutral on the Union and talk of a border poll, he told us, is not something that he is entertaining."

Mrs Foster also slammed Sinn Fein's comments that Boris Johnson must not become the DUP's "gopher" and the PM is "molly coddling" her party.

"I don't feel molly-coddled at all and I think it highly pejorative, and actually quite offensive, that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom comes to this country and that's the kind of reaction he gets," she said.

"We've seen [Sinn Fein's] hysterical reaction to the fact that we had dinner with the Prime Minister - 'my goodness what a shocking thing to happen' in a place where we're in a confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservative Party.

"They need to calm down."

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