Sinn Fein 'blinded by dreams of united Ireland' says Gregory Campbell after border poll call
DUP MP Gregory Campbell has said that Sinn Fein are "blinded" by their aspiration for a united Ireland and allowing critical issues to go unresolved.
The East Londonderry MP was speaking after Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald called for a referendum on Irish unity in the event of a no-deal Brexit and hard border in Ireland.
Mr Campbell accused Mrs McDonald of a 'u-turn' after she said last July that a poll on Irish unity should not be held while uncertainty around Brexit remains.
"It is exactly one year ago to the day when Mary Lou said if the UK was to have a no deal Brexit, the climate would NOT be right for a border poll. Now on this ‘first anniversary’ she announces again that there ‘has to be’ a border poll," the DUP MP said.
The veteran politician called on Sinn Fein to show greater respect for unionists.
"Rather than trying to tell unionists they would be accommodated in a United Ireland, Sinn Fein would be better to prove their commitment to a shared future by showing respect to unionists in Northern Ireland today," Mr Campbell said.
"Sinn Fein continues to chase fantasies of a ‘new Ireland’ but fail to afford unionists and the British identity any respect. They don’t even pay lip service to it.
"Mary Lou McDonald and her party must have their heads in the clouds. They are so blinded by their dreams of a United Ireland, they don’t even see the reality on the ground. Our hospitals and schools need locally elected Ministers in place to deal with mounting issues but Sinn Fein’s focus is on a narrow republican agenda."
Mr Campbell said that Mrs McDonald should "recognise that people care more about their hospitals and schools than her rhetoric about a United Ireland".
"Sinn Fein need to face up to the reality. It’s time for them to start working for all in Northern Ireland and form a functioning Assembly," the East Londonderry MP said.
"The DUP have been ready to do it every day, for over two years.”
Speaking in Belfast on Tuesday Mrs McDonald said she would be raising the issue of a border poll with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
"If the British Government have factored into their calculations a hard border, then they must factor in a unity referendum as laid out in the Good Friday Agreement," she said.
"The route back for the North into the EU is clear. Irish unity is the route back to the EU.
"We will be meeting Boris Johnson in the coming days. We will remind him not only of the need to respect the wishes of the majority to remain within the EU.
"We will also remind him of his obligations under the Good Friday and subsequent agreements including the provision for a unity referendum."
Sinn Fein has been contacted in relation to Mr Campbell's comments.
Belfast Telegraph Digital