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SoS rejects Sinn Fein call for border poll

Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy says England’s decision to leave the European Union means that a referendum on a United Ireland is now vital.

“56% of the electorate in the north have made clear their wish to remain within the EU, yet English votes have overturned their democratic will,” he said.

“The British government has no mandate to drag the north of Ireland out of the EU. It has no mandate to re-erect border controls between north and south and it has no mandate to represent the views of the north in any future negotiations with the EU.  It is unacceptable that a majority in England and Wales can alter the constitutional status of the North against the wishes of the people there.”

Mr Murphy says the “conditions now exist” for a referendum on Irish unity.

“A referendum on a United Ireland is now a democratic imperative and it is incumbent that the Irish government and all Irish nationalist parties support this demand.

“Sinn Féin has been clear that Ireland’s role, both North and South, is to seek progressive change in Europe from within the EU.  Whilst recognising the democratic deficit at the heart of Europe, and the neo-liberal tendencies within the bloc, our approach is to critically engage with the EU.

“There is no doubt that Brexit will cause immense difficulties across Ireland, but we must be prepared to deal with them to through unity, resolve and determination,” he added.

However, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has rejected Sinn Fein’s call for a border poll, stating that the circumstances for which it would be called do not exist.

“The Good Friday Agreement is very clear that the circumstances where the secretary of state is required to have a border poll is where there is reason to believe there would be a majority support for a united Ireland.  There is nothing to indicate that in any of the opinion surveys that have taken place,” she said.

Stating that she was “delighted” with the Brexit result, Ms Villiers was very positive about how the border system between the North and South of Ireland would work.

“With common sense between us, the UK and Ireland can maintain a border which is just as open after a Brexit vote as it has been for many years.  It’s important that it will,” she said.