Villiers says no to near-future Border poll
There will be no Border poll in the near future, Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers has said after the DUP made the surprise suggestion it might support such a move.
At the weekend Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams made a renewed call for a referendum on a united Ireland. The debate moved up a gear after Minister for Enterprise Arlene Foster (DUP) suggested her party might “call Sinn Féin’s bluff” by agreeing to such a vote. She said any poll on the constitutional future of Northern Ireland would “demonstrate the strength of support for the union and validate the status quo”.
“Be careful what you wish for is what I say to Sinn Féin, because if a Border poll happens today there will be a very, very clear majority of people in Northern Ireland which will say they want to remain in the United Kingdom”, she told BBC Radio Ulster. Any plebiscite is strictly within the gift of the Northern secretary as laid out in the Belfast Agreement. The secretary of state may order a referendum if he or she believes there is evidence of a desire for a change in the constitutional status.
In a statement Ms Villiers said this was not the case.
“Given the state of opinion in Northern Ireland, which is clearly expressed in election results and opinion polls, the Government has no present plans to call such a poll.
“It is crucial that political leaders here concentrate on working together on pressing economic and social issues, including the rebalancing of the NI economy and building a genuinely shared society, rather than being diverted into divisive, constitutional debates.”