A unionist peer has claimed that a small majority vote for a united Ireland in a border poll would lead to civil war.
According to the News Letter, Lord Kilclooney stated: "If Ireland was reunited by a narrow margin in a border poll, then it would spark a civil war."
“You cannot force Northern Ireland out of the UK by a one per cent majority. Can you imagine the loyalists in Belfast taking it quietly? I couldn’t," he said.
The peer, who helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement, made the comments after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he "did not want Irish reunification to come about as a result of a mere 51% to 49% margin."
In an interview on BBC's Spotlight on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar said: "I am very committed to the agreement that we have the Good Friday agreement which essentially is about powersharing here in Northern Ireland, the North and South working together and then us working in a bigger context with Britain as well.
"I wouldn't like us to get to the point whereby we're changing the constitutional position here in Northern Ireland on a 50% plus one basis."
Mirroring Varadkar's statement, Lord Kilclooney tweeted: "There should be a welcome for the realism of the RoI PM, Varadkar, when he says no United Ireland with only 50 percent plus one in NI."
There should be a welcome for the realism of the RoI PM, Varadkar, when he says no United Ireland with only 50 percent plus 1 in NI— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) October 17, 2017
Varadkar told the BBC show: "One of the best things about the Good Friday agreement is that it did get very strong cross border support that's why theres a 70% vote for it, I don't think there would be a 70% vote for a united Ireland in the morning for example.
"I really think that we should focus on the agreement we have work."