Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein demands border poll in wake of Sturgeon's call for second Scottish independence referendum

By Jonny Bell

Sinn Fein has demanded an Irish border poll in the wake of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second Scottish independence referendum.

The party's leader at Stormont addressed the press on Monday afternoon.

She said that Brexit "increased the urgency" for a border poll and that one should happen as soon as possible.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, the Secretary of State can call a poll if he thinks there is the support for unity.

Michelle O'Neill said: "They are continuing to refuse to listen to the views of the majority. Brexit would be a disaster for the economy and the people of Ireland.

"To us in Sinn Fein that increases the urgency for the need of a referendum on Irish unity and that needs to happen as soon as possible."

Calling for a unity referendum is not a new call for Sinn Fein.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said calls for an Irish border poll were "premature" and an issue for the longer term.

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In the wake of the Scottish First Minister's call, the DUP's Nigel Dodds branded it "opportunistic nationalism".

He said: "It is only a few years ago that the SNP told people that a referendum would settle the issue of Scottish independence for a generation. Now Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed she wants to repeat the process within a few years. Should the UK government not accede to this demand it will simply be presented as another grievance, regardless of the facts. 

"The notion this has anything to do with Brexit flies in the face of all facts. Within days of the first referendum result it was clear there were elements within the SNP that wanted to re-run the referendum at any cost.

"This is another prime example of opportunistic nationalism seizing an opportunity and attempting to exploit it for their own narrow ends.

"Whilst complaining about a “hard Brexit” Nicola Sturgeon would create a huge black hole in Scotland’s finances and bring about economic consequences far worse than any of the dire predictions made before the EU referendum.

"Having complained about the unknown elements of leaving the European Union, the SNP are now prepared to risk even greater unknowns by wanting to leave one of the most successful political unions in history and as the European Commission confirmed again today, an independent Scotland still wouldn’t be in the EU.”

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