Saturday 23 March 2019

'Special place reserved in hell' for people pushing for border poll, SDLP leader says

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

There will be “a special place in hell” for people calling for a border poll in Ireland without a plan on how to deliver it, the Fianna Fail Ard Fhéis was told.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood addressed the party’s delegates in Dublin for the first time just weeks after the parties announced a “partnership”

He said there will be a “special place in hell” for people pushing for a border poll in Ireland with no plan on how to deliver it.

Echoing inflammatory statements from European Council president Donald Tusk who stoked backlash in the UK when he said there was a special place in hell for Brexiteers who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan as to how to deliver it.

Mr Eastwood said: “There will be a special place reserved in hell for those who call for a border poll in Ireland with no plan and idea on how to actually deliver it.”

A referendum on a united Ireland would not be possible until “definition” and “detail” could be found he said.

The party leader also challenged Sinn Féin to take up their seats in Westminster as Brexit looms, something the party have repeatedly ruled out.

He said: “Get in there and do your duty to this country or be forever defined by empty rhetoric.”

Mr Eastwood also outlined the threat that Brexit poses to Northern Ireland, risking that it will become an economic backwater if a hard border re-emerges.

“Brexit is now the ever-shifting water table beneath our feet – it is unsettling all of the political ground which rests upon it,” he said.

“No-one should be in any doubt - the instability of Brexit and the instability faced by the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement are inextricably linked.

“A hard border in Ireland threatens to bring existential threats to many of our industries - it threatens to position us as a permanent economic backwater.”

Earlier Mr Martin underlined the importance of avoiding a hard border but did not outline what he would like to see happen if Britain does crash out, but warned the WTO will be there.

"But the WTO is there [the World Trade Organisation]. The rest of Europe isn't going to hang around...I don't believe there should be a border. Every effort has to be made to avoid a no deal," he said.

Mr Martin said he did not agree with the thinking that a no deal should be allowed to happen so as to get parties talking again, saying that would set things in train that would be very damaging.

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