Belfast Telegraph

Fianna Fail not planning border poll, says Micheal Martin

Mr Martin said proposals for a poll put forward by Sinn Fein risked inflaming tensions in Northern Ireland.

Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

Micheal Martin says his party is not making preparations for a border poll on a united Ireland.

“My position is very clear, and one of the objectives of the party since its foundation is for a united Ireland, but this is about the Irish people,” he said.

“One of our biggest achievements is the Good Friday Agreement, and now parties are trying to push the Good Friday Agreement aside.

“I was very clear at the outset of Brexit, I wasn’t going to conflate Brexit with unity, and was very against the border poll which Sinn Fein put forward.

“I’ve been very clear not to mix up a border poll with Brexit.

“The poll itself should be the culmination of a developed understanding. I believe in an evolutionary pathway to this, rather than sudden.”

There's a roadmap for a united Ireland in the Good Friday Agreement - let's use it Michael Martin

Mr Martin said proposals for a poll put forward by Sinn Fein risked inflaming tensions in Northern Ireland and could be perceived as forcing people into a rushed decision.

He added that Stormont should be restored to work towards “uniting people”.

“Politicians in the north need to demonstrate an ability to work the institutions set out in the Good Friday Agreement,” he added.

“I’m not giving Sinn Fein a free pass, I’m not talking about the next 10 years.

“In the absence of doing the hard work of governing, of being parliamentarians, they’ve got away with it for far too long and there’s no excuse.

“I’ve been very consistent on this, the heating scandal was not a basis for collapsing the Assembly. No parliament collapses on basis of scandal and it’s too convenient for Sinn Fein and the DUP to play to electoral base at the expense of the hard graft of workers.

“There’s a roadmap for a united Ireland in the Good Friday Agreement – let’s use it.

“Before you want to talk about new institutions and new approaches you have to demonstrate you can work the existing ones.

“There’s an emerging middle ground in the north, so I think we should nurture that and see where it takes us, and we’ve picked this up through our partnership with the SDLP.

“I feel the whole north-south agenda has slipped appallingly, there is very low morale in these bodies.

“We believe there should be new north-south bodies – one Enterprise Ireland on the island of Ireland, one food safety authority, these are non-contentious issues.

“I’m more pragmatic, I want to do things that matter to people. I see what Sinn Fein are at, but that’s about Sinn Fein and not about the Irish people.

“I want to do it logically and unite people.”

PA

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