We are nowhere near a united Ireland, DUP leader Donaldson says

We Are Nowhere Near A United Ireland, Dup Leader Donaldson Says
Jeffrey Donaldson has said the new arrangements have effectively removed the so-called Irish Sea border. Photo: PA
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By Jonathan McCambridge, PA

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has dismissed Sinn Féin predictions of a Border poll within 10 years, stating: “We are nowhere near a united Ireland.”

Mr Donaldson said Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald must have the “longest arms on this island” to state Irish unity is within touching distance.


The DUP gave the green light for the recall of the Stormont Assembly on the back of a deal with the British government on post-Brexit trading arrangements, following its two-year boycott.

Last week, two pieces of legislation contained in the agreement to resurrect devolution were fast-tracked through the House of Commons.

Mr Donaldson has said the new arrangements have effectively removed the so-called Irish Sea border for goods moving from Britain to, and staying in, Northern Ireland.

Stormont Assembly
Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald have predicted that Irish unity is moving closer. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA.

However, the return of Stormont led to Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill becoming the North’s first nationalist First Minister. Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said Irish unity is now within “touching distance” and Ms O’Neill predicted a Border poll within 10 years.

But the DUP leader told the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk radio that he didn’t think “anyone with any credibility believes that this is the case”.

He added: “There is nothing to suggest there has been a significant shift in public opinion in Northern Ireland.


“All polling data points to a very strong majority in favour of remaining in the UK.



“Let’s face it, Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland represent about 27-28 per cent of the vote, that’s a long way shy of a majority.”

Mr Donaldson added: “Unless Mary Lou McDonald has the longest arms on this island, I don’t think she is anywhere close to touching distance.

“As for the 10 years, Gerry Adams once predicted there would be a united Ireland by 2016, we are almost 10 years on from that, and we are nowhere near a united Ireland.”

He said he wanted to see closer mutual co-operation between the North and the Republic.


“I think there is so much we can work on together, to co-operate on.

“All this talk coming from Sinn Féin, one party talking up a divisive border poll at a time when I think the people of Northern Ireland want to see their politicians working together, focusing on the real issues now that matter to them – health, education, housing, childcare support, prosperity, jobs – all of these things matter to people.


“We are up for working for others to deliver a better future for everyone in Northern Ireland.

“I think all this talk of a Border poll is just that.

“I think Sinn Féin are trying to up the ante, they are trying to reassure their base after the gains the DUP have made in this agreement that bind Northern Ireland more closely into the United Kingdom.

“It is really smoke to cover what they know and recognise: we are not moving closer to a united Ireland.”

Mr Donaldson also denied that a strike by public sector workers in the North was a major factor in persuading his party to return to Stormont.

The UK government has offered a £3.3 billion (€3.8 billion) financial package, including a sum to settle public sector pay claims, but it was dependent on the return of the powersharing institutions.

Industrial strike
Jeffrey Donaldson denied that a public sector strike had influenced his party’s decision to return to Stormont Photo: Liam McBurney/PA.

Mr Donaldson said: “Obviously, we want our public sector workers to get their much-deserved pay award and, in fact, the UK government has set aside the funding to enable that to happen in the current financial year.

“Frankly, they should have proceeded to give the public sector workers their pay award.

“It wasn’t a major factor in our decision (to go back to Stormont), because in the end it was about getting agreement with the Government, ensuring that they delivered on their side, that we got the progress that was needed to protect Northern Ireland’s ability to trade with the rest of the United Kingdom.

“It is a vital market for us with over £12 billion of goods sold in Great Britain every year.

“That was the key element of arriving at an agreement, to secure the changes that we needed with the Government.

“And now, hopefully in tandem with the Treasury we can deliver that public sector pay award to our public sector workers.”

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