Sinn Fein president: PM must call Irish border poll in the event of hard border
Mary-Lou McDonald made the comments to a Sinn Fein party meeting at the Metropolitan Arts Centre in Belfast.
The Prime Minister must call a border poll in the event of a hard border following Brexit, the Sinn Fein president has said.
Mary Lou McDonald is due to meet Boris Johnson and said she will remind him of his “obligations under the Good Friday and subsequent agreements including the provision for a unity referendum”.
However DUP MP Gregory Campbell pointed to comments she made last July saying a poll on Irish unity should not be held while uncertainty around Brexit remains.
Mrs McDonald said on Tuesday: “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.
“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.
Mrs McDonald made her comments to a meeting of party members, including former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and current vice president Michelle O’Neill.
Speaking at the meeting at the MAC in Belfast, the Sinn Fein president also described Mr Johnson as “jingoistic and bullish”, adding “he is not my Prime Minister”.
Last week Irish premier Leo Varadkar said a no-deal Brexit would prompt more liberal unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland to consider joining a united Ireland.
Mrs McDonald urged the Taoiseach to appoint an Irish Government Minister of State to develop strategies to advance Irish unity.
“Partition has failed,” she said.
“It has prevented this island from reaching its potential for nearly a century.
“Brexit will serve only to reinforce that partition and further damage our island.
“The Government has to begin planning for unity.”
This round of talks to have thus far failed to achieve agreement.— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) July 30, 2019
This is because these key issues have not been faced up to yet.
The DUP are focusing on protecting the Union with Britain above all else regardless of the consequences -@MaryLouMcDonald pic.twitter.com/KrecGiLrOs
Mr Campbell responded saying: “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.
“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.”
Mrs McDonald also gave an update on the talks to revive the powersharing government at Stormont which has been collapsed since January 2017.
She said meetings “have been held but little progress was made”.
“This round of talks to restore the powersharing government have thus far failed to achieve agreement,” she said.
“This is because these key issues have not been faced up to yet.
“The DUP are focusing on protecting the Union with Britain above all else regardless of the consequences for society, for the economy or for the people.”