Belfast Telegraph

Former loyalist prisoner considering united Ireland and voting Green Party over Brexit

A Loyalist mural on the Newtownards road in Belfast (Paul Faith/PA)
A Loyalist mural on the Newtownards road in Belfast (Paul Faith/PA)

A former loyalist prisoner has said that he is contemplating a united Ireland and voting for the Green Party over Brexit.

Tommy Spence told the Times that he still supports the principle of an armed struggle but Brexit had led him to consider drastic measures.

Earlier this week Taoiseach Leo Varadkar angered the DUP when he suggested that Irish unity could be one possible solution to the current Brexit stalemate.

DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson accused him of "poking unionists in the eye" with the remarks.

The Times described Mr Spence as having been "jailed during the Troubles for a crime he is not keen to talk about".

He told the newspaper that he was normally a DUP voter but felt let down over Brexit.

"We are in trouble. I voted Brexit, I voted for the DUP. But how has it benefited us?," he asked.

"The country is in turmoil. We've gone back to where were in the past.

"If the borders go up the terrorism will come back. We don't want to go back to that."

Heather McCracken comes from a unionist background but told the Times that Arlene Foster was ignoring the views of the business community.

The 44-year-old spent time living outside Northern Ireland but has returned and now runs a gift shop.

"Arlene Foster is not speaking for Northern Ireland," she said.

"She is not speaking about what business needs. She appears blind to that.

"If there is a no-deal Brexit my prices will go up. How will I get goods from my European suppliers? No one can it won't have an impact. It is very frustrating."

Mrs McCracken said she was envious of progress being made in the Republic of Ireland.

"They are moving further and faster. They're ahead of the game," she said.

"Some people are calling for a vote on reunification. I think that's a debate that needs to be had."

Jim Dornan, father of Northern Ireland actor Jamie, told the Times that he felt Brexit had put Irish unity back on the agenda for good.

"For whatever (the DUP) decided to support Brexit, probably because they didn't think it would happen," the obstetrician and lecturer said.

"But what has happened since has rattled the cage of middle-class nationalists irreparably.

"I don't see the middle-class Catholic nationalist population ever trusting the DUP again."

Last month a Lord Ashcroft survey found that 51% of voters in Northern Ireland would back Irish unity.

The poll shows that 45% of those survey said they would stay in the UK, while 46% said they would vote to leave and join the Republic of Ireland.

The figures break down to 51% to 49% for unification when those who don't know and others who say they would not vote are excluded.

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