DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson: border poll would ‘polarize’ communities in Northern Ireland
DUP chief Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said a border poll would be “very divisive” and polarize communities in Northern Ireland.
Sir Jeffrey said the majority of the people in the province wanted to stay in the UK.
The DUP leader made the comments at the Good Summit seminar, which looked at the future of Ireland.
Speakers included Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald and Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond.
Sir Jeffrey rejected the idea of a border poll, saying last year had shown there was a “long road” to reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
“It would be very divisive.
“It would polarize the community in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“At the moment, I don’t think we need this.
“I think the majority of Northern Ireland want to stay in the UK.
“I think this is clear from all the opinion polls we’ve done.
“I don’t think there is a majority for change and to be honest we have a lot of other priorities that we need to address.”
He added: “I think the past year has shown that we still have a long way to go in building reconciliation and bringing people together in Northern Ireland.
“I think that too should be a priority right now.
“I don’t think we should push this down the road like I said, I think we need to look at ways in which we can build our common future.
“I also believe that it means understanding our common history and not being afraid to become involved in our common history.”
He added that a united Ireland would not heal the wounds in Northern Ireland.
As part of the Good Friday deal, there is a provision for a poll to be held at the Northern Ireland border.
The Northern Ireland Act states that it would take place if the majority of voters wanted the two jurisdictions to be reunited.
Speaking at the event, Ms McDonald said now is the time to plan and discuss the end of the score.
“Do not rush. I am not saying that we are going to gallop to the polls next week and organize the referendum, that would clearly be a joke, ”she added.
“But what I’m saying is, let’s not waste time now and start planning and discussing the practical bread and butter issues that matter.
“I think we need an Irish national health service.
“I think we need a universal service, free at the access point.
“I also know that this will require very considerable planning and infrastructure and a resource base, and we need to have a conversation about how we pay for it.”