Saintfield-based MLA David McNarry said: “The Sinn Fein ‘loony tune’ calls for an Irish unity referendum just reflects their underlying desperation. It is, of course, part of their deliberate ploy to regularly inject discord by constantly raising tensions through provocative politicking. “Clearly, Sinn Fein have come to recognize the consequences for them when they allowed themselves to be trapped in a constitutional settlement with a comfort zone at Stormont which people want to work and to succeed. “In seeking the wriggle room of an Irish Unity referendum, Sinn Fein are simply looking for compensation for running out of political road in their ‘Brits out’ campaign. In consequence, they have become a cartoon character party losing their relevance as Irish Republicans. “Such is Sinn Fein’s vanity that unionists should not fear a referendum. In fact, it would do the Union a great favour, settling this matter for away beyond the foreseeable future.” However, Sinn Féin South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane has replied saying that David McNarry’s comments were contradictory. Ms Ruane said: “David McNarry states that Unionism has nothing to fear from a border poll and then goes on to castigate Sinn Féin for raising the issue. “David McNarry needs to recognise that a border poll is a legitimate part of the Good Friday Agreement and is going to happen. “I would agree that Unionism has nothing to fear from a border poll and for that matter a united Ireland. “As I said in the Assembly recently, Unionist political leaders have forgotten to tell their community that change is happening. The recent census figures have shown that there are major changes in the demography of the North and more change is on the way. “David McNarry and other unionist political leaders would be better to come together and discuss how we create a new Ireland where everyone’s rights and identities are protected.” Mr McNarry retorted by saying: “UKIP are up for change… that is a natural evolution of democratic politics. The problem is Caitriona Ruane only sees change as a one way change. She wants me to exchange my Britishness for her passport politics of Irish Republicanism. “When has Caitriona even publically embraced exchanging her Irishness to Britishness within the United Kingdom. Sinn Fein oppose all things British, then contradict all their blarney by clinging tight to Executive positions on the Northern Ireland Government. “If they were honest with the electorate they would take the honourable pathway and form Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition at Stormont. Then their unremitting campaign for an Irish unity Referendum would have some tangible legitimacy. Keep going Caitriona you are doing a great job for UKIP.”
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Ritchie Says Secretary of State Must Engage With Dublin on Key IssuesSDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has questioned the Secretary of State on a Border Poll and the possibility of a financial support framework for Northern Ireland. Speaking following Northern Ireland Question Time in the House of Commons on 23 January, Ms Ritchie said: “I urged the Secretary of State to discuss any plans for a border poll with her counterpart in Dublin. A debate on such a poll must be conducted in the context of a wider discussion around mutual respect, dealing with the past and meaningful reconciliation. The border poll would re-affirm the right of people across the Island to self-determination which is a cornerstone of the Good Friday Agreement. “As a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement it is essential that the Secretary of State consults with Dublin before setting out the terms of any such poll. Given recent tensions in Northern Ireland as a result of on-going illegal flag protests it may not be the best time to conduct such a poll as it could well descend into a sectarian flag waving contest. “Our economy in Northern Ireland is hurting as a result of the past seven weeks of disruption and a long term financial support framework agreed by Dublin and London is needed now more than ever. This is required regardless of any future constitutional change that may come from a border poll. “The SDLP previously raised the financial support framework with the Secretary of States predecessor and he was amenable to such discussions. I am glad the Secretary of State has agreed to meet with us to discuss the border poll and any financial support. I will continue to press the London and Dublin governments to discuss the important issues.”
Transcript from exchange between Ms Ritchie and the Secretary of State:Ms Ritchie: As well as discussing the violence has the Secretary of State any plans to discuss the question of a border poll with Dublin, in particular, the SDLP idea of a long term financial support framework for Northern Ireland agreed between London and Dublin, which would survive future constitutional change, while over time reducing the North’s net dependency on the Treasury and would she meet with my party to discuss such proposals.