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Sinn Fein need to get real on border poll - Nesbitt

Platform by Mike Nesbitt MLA which appeared in the Newsletter on Saturday 27th September 2014.

"So, Sinn Fein want a Border Poll on the back of the Scottish Independence vote. This is  predictable, but makes no sense except as a frankly vulgar attempt to destabilise unionism. I say this because they know it flies in the face of the legislation that backs up the Belfast Agreement they support.

"The 1998 Northern Ireland Act affirms our position as part of the United Kingdom, but it also defines very clearly the only circumstances under which a Secretary of State may bring forward a poll to ask the public if they want a constitutional change. These are circumstances they know do not exist.

"Schedule 1 of the Act states the Secretary of State may call a poll only “if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.”

"There is absolutely no evidence that it appears likely people would vote for change. Indeed the reality of the situation is quite the opposite if you examine the most reliable data, the 2011 Census. Here we find only 25% of Northern Ireland’s population wish to call themselves Irish. That, by the way, is as stunning a commentary on the fruitless folly of the IRA campaign, as is the fact that 3,500 people died needlessly.

"Sinn Fein’s call for a border poll is simply an attempt to mask the failure of both the IRA’s campaign and Sinn Fein’s own position at Stormont, where they are locked into a partitionist solution that recognises Northern Ireland’s position as part of the United Kingdom.

"Before calling for a border poll, Sinn Fein might be wise to check that the Republic would actually want to take on Northern Ireland.

"It is widely accepted that Sinn Fein have a tenuous grasp on economics, but surely even they realise that even if a united Ireland was deemed to be an attractive prospect by the majority of the electorate in Northern Ireland, they would still need to address the not inconsiderable matter of the £10 billion subvention given to Northern Ireland every year by Westminster to help run every aspect of our lives, not least our health service, education system and our welfare system.

"Perhaps Sinn Fein think the 3.5 million citizens of the Irish Republic could raise the sum that 60 million GB citizens currently provide. But it might be polite to ask them first.   

"The economy, education health and housing are the issues that really concern the people of this country. Rather than waste time in pointless and futile debates about border polls, the Ulster Unionist Party wants to see the parties here engage fully in the debate about the faltering budget and the failures in our Programme for Government."

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