Support for Irish unification should be accepted as legitimate position in political discourse

Efforts to halt contemplation of united Ireland undermine Belfast Agreement

While the British government openly supports Northern Ireland remaining in the UK, the Irish Government has maintained a confused and tepid position. Photograph: PA

While the British government openly supports Northern Ireland remaining in the UK, the Irish Government has maintained a confused and tepid position. Photograph: PA

Watching the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, clutch his figurative pearls recently at the idea that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar aspires to see a united Ireland in his lifetime was distracting. After all his own statement that he is “unapologetically pro-union and not neutral on Northern Ireland” still hung in the air. Behind his disingenuous display of moral superiority, and behind the smokescreen of faux outrage and political pageantry from unionist leaders, the campaign to keep Northern Ireland in the UK is already well under way.

Former Democratic Unionist Party leader Peter Robinson infamously told unionists to prepare for a “predictable” Border poll last year, and unionism responded. Ulster Unionist Party councillor Philip Smith co-founded pro-UK campaign group UnitingUK in direct response to Robinson’s call to arms. The pro-union group makes the case for Northern Ireland as an integral component of the United Kingdom and does so with slick graphics and refreshing honesty.

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