Belfast Telegraph

Zero prospect of a united Ireland, insists Donaldson after Foster storm

By Rebecca Black

A United Ireland will never happen, a senior DUP MP insisted yesterday.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson spoke out following the furious reaction to party leader Arlene Foster saying she would consider leaving Northern Ireland in the event of reunification.

Mrs Foster said: "If it were to happen, I'm not sure that I would be able to continue to live here. I would feel so strongly about it (that) I would probably have to move."

The former First Minister was speaking on Patrick Kielty's documentary My Dad, the Peace Deal and Me, which aired on BBC One on Wednesday.

The DUP leader qualified her comments when asked where she would go, explaining she did not think a united Ireland was likely to happen.

Sinn Fein councillor Patrice Hardy described the comments as "quite remarkable from a previous joint First Minister".

"There is a place for all unionists in a new Ireland, a place for both orange and green," she wrote on Twitter.

Alliance leader Naomi Long also rounded on Mrs Foster, describing her comments as "sad but not entirely surprising".

Other unionists also disagreed, including UUP leader Robin Swann, who told the News Letter: "This is my home. It is the only home I have ever known and I will not be leaving it."

However, Sir Jeffrey yesterday backed his leader and repeated her sentiments, saying he did not believe that there was any "realistic prospect of a united Ireland".

"As Arlene Foster pointed out in the Patrick Kielty programme, a united Ireland is not going to happen," Mr Donald said. "It was a hypothetical question because there is no realistic prospect of a united Ireland.

"Mrs Foster was reflecting how the Protestant population dwindled in the Republic of Ireland after partition.

"Those with a British identity did not feel welcome.

"Sinn Fein spins to unionists that they would be welcome in a united Ireland.

"Yet when unionists look at how Sinn Fein-controlled councils treat unionists currently within Northern Ireland, there is a very different reality.

"Sinn Fein blocks Armed Forces recruitment days, wouldn't present awards to teenagers in cadet forces, won't allow the Union flag to fly a few days per year, relegates English to a second language, celebrates PIRA murderers, mocks PIRA victims, snubs the Royal family and bans the sale of poppies. The list goes on.

"Sinn Fein's actions speak louder than their words."

Sir Jeffrey also stressed that Mrs Foster pointed out a number of advantages of the Union in footage that was cut from the show.

"While not broadcast on the programme, Arlene rightly pointed to the strong arguments for the Union, whether the economy or our fantastic and invaluable NHS," he said.

"Over the coming months, the DUP leadership will travel to every corner of Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, promoting the benefits of the Union.

"It is always useful to debate and refresh the minds of the next generation as to why Northern Ireland's place within the Union is so important, whether from a historical, cultural, economic, social or security point of view."

Belfast Telegraph

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