John Bruton: A united North must come before a united Ireland
Unionists are still in the majority following the recent Assembly election, writes John Bruton, and Sinn Féin must be careful not to widen divisions further for a cause we simply cannot afford
In the recent elections in the North, the Democratic Unionists got 28.1pc of the vote, Sinn Féin 27.9pc, the Ulster Unionists 12.9pc, the SDLP 11.9pc and the Alliance Party 9.1pc.
The fact that Sinn Féin increased its share of the vote by a substantial 3.9 percentage points has led some commentators to interpret this as a mandate to start negotiating towards a united Ireland.
There is some wishful thinking going on here. Of the 90 seats in the new Assembly, 49 were won by parties that broadly support the continuation of the Union with Britain, while only 39 were won by parties who want to replace that with a union with the rest of Ireland.