Belfast Telegraph

Rory McIlroy wades into united Ireland debate after Brexit vote

By Cate McCurry

Rory McIlroy has said people need to "weigh up" the possibility of a united Ireland following the EU referendum result.

The golfing star made the comments during an interview the day after the Brexit result.

While the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU, Northern Ireland backed remaining, leading to calls for a border poll.

Although McIlroy (27) did not have a vote in the referendum because he now lives in the US, he said he had recently got "really into politics" on both sides of the Atlantic.

The world number four golfer added: "If I'm Northern Irish, what's better? To be part of the UK and not be in the EU? Or to be in a united Ireland and still belong to the EU? People are going to have to weigh that up."

The Holywood man said of the referendum: "People are wanting to protect their own, to close their borders.

"The world would be a much more prosperous place if everyone was able to get along.

"You have Leave saying that we send £350m to the EU every week, and that we should spend it on the NHS instead. But then Nigel Farage comes out later and admits he doesn't know where that money is going to go.

"This is the first year I have really got into politics, and I have seen from following the US presidential election how people want to become secure and protected against the volatility of Isil and suchlike. That's the big reason Leave won the day."

McIlroy also addressed the controversy over his decision to pull out of the Rio Olympics because of the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects.

"I had consulted a lot of experts in tropical medicine and received my jabs for dengue and yellow fever," he said. "I asked, 'What about Zika?' I was told that there was a very low risk, and that when I came back I could have a blood test to see if I was carrying it.

"Ultimately, it was a question of health and wellbeing - and of security. It's an unstable place and I just wasn't comfortable making the trip."

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