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James McClean reacts to Brexit result and Sinn Fein's call for border poll on Irish unity


James McClean with the late Martin McGuinness

James McClean with the late Martin McGuinness

James McClean with the late Martin McGuinness

Republic of Ireland winger James McClean has come out in support of a border poll for a United Ireland after Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU but the UK as a whole voted for Brexit.

McClean, who played a starring role in Ireland's 1-0 victory over italy in Lille on Wednesday, tweeted a picture today of himself and Martin McGuinness with the message: "Reignition of the flames of reunification #BorderPoll #UnitedIreland."


McClean's Twitter account has since been deleted.

Born in Derry, from a staunchly nationalist background, McClean has spoken eloquently in the past about the reasoning behind to his refusal to wear a poppy on Remembrance Day.

McClean believes that such a gesture would be disrespectful to those gunned down on the streets of his home city on Bloody Sunday; similar conscientious objection was behind his decision to turn away from the Union flag in America last summer.

Sinn Fein this morning claimed that the result of the referendum should trigger a border poll on Irish unity.

In Northern Ireland 440,707 (56%) people voted to Remain and 349,442 (44%) to Leave.

Of the region's 18 constituencies, 11 voted Remain and seven voted Leave.

A border poll can only be called by the region's Secretary of State in circumstances where there is clear evidence of a public opinion swing towards a united Ireland.

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Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the people of Northern Ireland must have a say on their own future.

The Sinn Fein veteran said the region is in "unchartered waters" and he would seek "urgent" talks with the Irish and Scottish governments and EU institutions on "how we move forward in the best interests of all of our people".

"This decision to drag us out of the European Union against our democratically expressed wishes has nothing to do with issues around the European institutions and everything to do with the civil war within the British Tory party," he said.

"The people of the north of Ireland - nationalists, republicans, unionists and others - have made it clear at the polls that they wish to remain in the EU.

"The British Government now need to take account of that and recognise that reality and allow the people of the north to have their say on their own future.

"Dragging us out of Europe will be to the detriment of all our citizens and will be bad for business, trade, investment and wider society."

Sinn Fein's Matt Carty told 'The Last Word with Matt Cooper' that the people of Northern Ireland have expressed their 'democratic wish'.

"Their will is to remain in the European Union," he said on the Today FM radio show this afternoon.

"The only way this can be respected is through Irish reunification. This is about the economic future of the entire island of Ireland.

"We could not and cannot contemplate a situation where one part of Ireland is operating in one market and another part of Ireland is operating in another."

John Bruton responded to the appeal for reunification on the same radio show, saying that a united Ireland may be a very good thing but "it will not come about unless both sides want it."

"To try to simply introduce a united Ireland by a 51pc [for example], that would not be a good way of doing business," he said.

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