Belfast Telegraph

Irish unification poll would be 'recipe for chaos', says DUP's Campbell

By Donna Deeney

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has dismissed his former party leader Peter Robinson's suggestion of holding a poll on Irish unification every generation as unnecessary.

In a key speech at Queen's University in Belfast last week, former First Minister Mr Robinson said it would be less disruptive to local politics to hold generational border polls.

He also said he believed that a simple "majority of one" outcome would be a "recipe for chaos" across the island.

But East Londonderry MP Mr Campbell said no matter when such a poll was staged, people in Northern Ireland would vote to remain in the UK.

He commented: "I think the issue of a border poll is one that keeps cropping up, but if there was one, people would vote to stay within the UK, whether they vote every seven years, every 27 years or every 127 years, it will not change.

"I think because of the uncertainty that has transpired because of Brexit it is being talked about, but in two or three years from now, when Brexit is done and dusted and people are wondering what all the fuss was about, people will see sense.

"The bottom line is, in Northern Ireland now you have Britishness and Irishness and people can cherish and belong to both, either or, but they can't do that if there is a united Ireland.

"What sense of Britishness would there be in a united Ireland?

"If people want to have their Britishness and Irishness they can have that within the UK so there's not going to be a united Ireland so it's pointless talking about it.

"If you look at what Peter Robinson said, he said it would be less contentious to have a border poll every generation rather than every seven years which I think nobody could argue with.

"But as the Scottish referendum proved, it would become exceptionally contentious, and that was in Scotland where there was no history of violence to change a border so in Northern Ireland it would be far more contentious."

Mr Campbell was the third DUP MP to distance themselves from Mr Robinson's comments.

On Friday, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson maintained that the focus needed to be on the restoration of the power-sharing Executive to Stormont - and that a border poll would be "divisive and unsettling" at a time when trust and reconciliation needed to be built upon.

"Undoubtedly a border poll could clear the air on the constitutional question, and I believe it would result in a decisive vote in favour of the Union," the Lagan Valley MP said.

"Nevertheless, it would also be divisive and unsettling at a time when we need to build trust and promote reconciliation.

"Therefore, let us focus on restoring the Assembly and Executive so that we can take forward the legacy of Peter's time as First Minister and together build a united community."

And fellow DUP MP Sammy Wilson said he opposed any built-in arrangement for border polls, adding: "Obviously he (Mr Robinson) has got his own ideas, but it can be destabilising and we've seen how Sinn Fein have tried to use a border poll arrangement with all of its safeguards in the Belfast Agreement in a way which is mischievous."

He also disagreed with the idea that the staging of a referendum every generation would reduce tensions.

"People would just work towards the border poll and would make sure all their politics was about getting the result they want.

"To me, the best way of taking the border out of politics is not to have it there as an issue," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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