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Monday 20 November 2017

DUP throws weight behind Sinn Fein call for poll on North

David Young

THE North’s largest unionist party has said it supports a poll sought by Sinn Fein on a united Ireland.

DUP minister Arlene Foster said that holding the vote would demonstrate the strength of support for the Union and validate the status quo.

Sinn Fein has recently launched a renewed campaign calling for a referendum on the national question during the next Stormont Assembly term.

Such an exercise is allowed for under the terms of the Good Friday peace agreement.

Mrs Foster said she had held discussions with party colleagues, including leader and Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson, about calling Sinn Fein's bluff by supporting its call.

The DUP Economy Minister claimed a poll would expose the republican party's "fantasy politics".

"You know in conversation yesterday with some senior members of my party, including the First Minister Peter Robinson, we did take a view actually that said 'Right, let's have this border poll'."

She added: "Then the fantasy politics become real politics."

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly member said any vote would show a clear majority in favour of retaining the Union.

She accused Sinn Fein of trying to destabilise the situation in Northern Ireland and claimed the result of a poll would provide stability.

"If we have a border poll today then Sinn Fein is going to get an answer," she told Radio Ulster.

"Be careful what you wish for is what I say to Sinn Fein 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."

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, the Secretary of State can order a poll if he or she believes there is evidence indicating support for a constitutional change.

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