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DUP blundering on Brexit and border poll has to have 70% support, says Professor Jim Dornan

Renowned gynaecologist and dad of Hollywood star hits out at Foster's strategy

By Martin Breen

The professor dad of actor Jamie Dornan has hit out at the DUP over their political strategy.

Speaking on journalist Eamonn Mallie's Face to Face TV show this Tuesday, Jim Dornan says Arlene Foster's party has "shot themselves in the foot" and believes there will be a border poll.

One of Northern Ireland's leading obstetricians and gynaecologists, he reveals in the UTV series that he would have no problem with living in "a new union of Ireland".

But he believes the key to the result of such a poll and to politics here is the middle ground and winning them over.

"If I was chief strategist of the DUP, I wouldn't be doing what they have been doing in the last two to three years. I think they have got their strategy wrong. No matter what comes out of Brexit, I think they have shot themselves in the foot," he tells Mallie.

"They make the same mistake Sinn Fein do. They play to their bases. What about the other 60%? I just don't think it is a very clever strategy."

The father of Fifty Shades of Grey actor Jamie, who is from a unionist background, said his view is that a border poll on a united Ireland is more likely after or around 2021, the 100th anniversary of Northern Ireland's formation.

"There will be a border poll, maybe not in my lifetime, with my chest, but hopefully within my lifetime. I think coming up to the anniversary in 2021 and the demographics are looking very like a Protestant and Catholic equal number, the pressure to have a border poll will be huge. I don't want a border poll where it wins by 51%. I want something like the Good Friday Agreement that has 70%.

"To get that, whoever drives this has to get the middle ground. There is no sense in just fighting it from the emotional bit. It has to be fought practically."

The 70-year-old calls for civic society to put together a dossier explaining all options for the political future of Northern Ireland, including how it would fit into "a new union of Ireland".

"There are maybe 20% of people in Northern Ireland who will vote strongly and emotionally to keep the link with the UK and 20% will speak strongly and emotionally to be part of the new union of Ireland.

"But 60% in the middle want to see the deal. That is what I am all about now. We are not just going to vote on just yes or no. I want civic society, universities, helped by government, not by political parties, to put together a dossier that tells us what is on the table.

"What the future would be for a new union of Ireland, for a new dispensation, for maybe even the same dispensation.

"What would it mean for health, agriculture and economics, the digital age, our culture. Let's see what it is."

"I have no problem with living under a different dispensation," he added.

Mr Dornan also speaks about the death of his first wife, Lorna, who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in 1998.

Last year, the renowned surgeon and his Hollywood actor son backed a new group set up in Belfast to support families battling pancreatic cancer.

Jamie (36) is now a patron of the group NIPanC, which aims to promote better outcomes for sufferers here.

His dad has now revealed how his training as a doctor helped him prepare the family for the death of their mum.

"I don't think medicine failed. I am a very positive person. I try to turn negatives into positives. That was an incredibly challenging time, but I don't blame medicine. Medicine is fascinating, but pancreatic cancer is still not great news to get, although I'm glad to say, it's slightly getting better," he says.

"I knew what I was being prepared for and I was able to prepare the family for what at that time was inevitable.

"Lorna was wonderful. She was tremendous and it was a tough journey."

The professor himself successfully battled leukaemia after being diagnosed in 2005.

"It was shattering, suddenly realising that you were mortal. I always say if I don't die of it, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, in that stage of my life.

"It certainly helped me get things in perspective."

Eamonn Mallie Face to Face with Jim Dornan is on UTV this Tuesday at 10.40pm

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