United Ireland 'not on the radar' - insists Campbell

East Derry MP Gregory Campbell has said that a united Ireland is "not on the radar screen."

The DUP politician made the comment in response to a speech made by the former head of the Civil Service, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, at a summer school in Clare in which he discussed the possibility of a united Ireland.

Mr Campbell said he was confident that there would never be a united Ireland and described the concept of Irish unity as a "impossible myth."

"It is an impossibility. Republicans often talk of a united Ireland as something that is achievable but it is not. The whole tenor of political progress in recent years has been about Northern Ireland moving towards cross community initiatives and developing greater relationships between communities. It is not about changing the constitutional status of either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. That is simply not on the radar screen.

"Some people, mainly republicans, talk about a united Ireland like it is inevitable. They talk of the need to convince unionists of the so-called benefits of a united Ireland but that is missing the point. There simply is not going to be one," he said.

Mr Campbell also dismissed the suggestion that population change would make constitutional change inevitable.

"There are a number of factors that mitigate against a united Ireland, most notably the birthrate. We were continually told that there would eventually be more Catholics than Protestants but the Catholic birthrate is in decline and has been for some time and the Protestant birthrate is stabilising. Even if the number of Catholics were to rise it would not make a difference as many Catholics are happy to remain within the United Kingdom. Their Irish identity has been safeguarded in Northern Ireland," he said.

The DUP accepted that a united Ireland was a legitimate aspiration for nationalists but said that it was unachievable.

"This topic comes up year after year and republicans continue peddling the myth of a united Ireland but that is all it is; a myth," he said.