Sinn Fein have dismissed Secretary of State Owen Paterson’s refusal to consider a border poll on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, as “arrogance”.
In a House Of Commons debate yeserday, Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said he has “no intention” of calling a border poll “at the moment”.
DUP MP Nigel Dodds had asked Mr Paterson to confirm that he had “no intention of organising any kind of border poll in Northern Ireland, given the levels of satisfaction with the current constitutional settlement.”
To which Mr. Paterson replied that the Government would; “always back the democratic wishes of the people of Northern Ireland.”
Quoting an opinion poll conducted by Queen’s Universit,y which stated 82.6% wanted to remain in the UK, Mr. Paterson said he would not be calling any poll, adding: “I have the right to call a poll as Secretary of State when I feel like it. I have an obligation to call a poll when there’s a clear indication there would be a vote for a united Ireland.”
The Derry Journal asked the Secretary of State’s department what would be considered “a clear indication”?
The department issued the following statement: “The Secretary was referring directly to Legislation as in Schedule 1 paragraph 2 of the Northern Ireland Act.
“Therefore if it appears likely that a majority of those voting in Northern Ireland would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form a part of a United Ireland.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin, said in reaction: “Once more Owen Paterson’s dismissive arrogance shows through. Is it because he fears the result of a border poll?
“The Good Friday Agreement commits both governments in the event of a simple majority in favour of Irish unity to immediately legislate for it. There is no specific mechanism identified to inform the Secretary of State on how to gauge when those conditions prevail but can Mr Paterson explain how he informed himself that the conditions do not pertain? I believe that it is time to test the mood of the people.”