Varadkar and SF split over border poll call

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Sinn Fein and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar have once again taken opposing views on the possibility of an imminent border poll, this time at a Dublin Brexit conference.

While Sinn Fein is increasingly calling for a poll, Mr Varadkar yesterday ruled it out once again.

“I know some people feel Brexit has changed the rules of engagement and perhaps it has, but now is not the time for border polls,” he said. “It only serves to sew divisions.”

But speaking at the same conference, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald disagreed. “If the border cannot be mitigated, it must be removed... It is time for an all-Ireland conversation and forum to look to the future... To define a new and united Ireland,” she said.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Sinn Fein is more focused on a poll than a sensible Brexit deal. “Indeed, judging by their hard border rhetoric, Sinn Fein seem to be cheerleaders for a ‘no deal ‘exit.” he said.

And UUP MLA Doug Beattie said that with health and education “on their knees,” a poll would “further division and instability”. But TUV leader Jim Allister said Mr Varadkar is only stalling because he wants the backstop in place first, “as the republican building block it is”.

Alliance leader Naomi Long was open to a poll, but agreed with the SDLP that “the time is not right” due to Brexit. F

UUP Peer Lord Empey said: “Following on from similar comments earlier this week from Bertie Ahern, the penny is beginning to drop that this is a Sinn Fein strategy to create further division.”