A border poll to determine support for Irish island unity ignored the fact the Republic is “bust”, according to a former UUP member.
Basil McCrea MLA, leader of the newly created NI21 party following his resignation from the UUP last February, said it was self-indulgent of Sinn Féin to even pursue the issue.
A guest speaker at the annual Sinn Féin Summer School at the Mills Inn, Baile Mhuirne, Co Cork, he said only 25% of the Northern population would vote for a united Ireland.
“But ironically such a poor showing would be strategically advantageous. It would set in train a series of border polls every seven years. A poor result now would provide a wonder-fully low baseline figure from which to build for the future, with every modest increase hailed as progress towards the ultimate goal.”
Taking part in a lively debate with Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, he said the push for a border poll debate was a “brilliant strategy, if your commitment is to Sinn Féin alone”. The elephant in the room was the Republic was “bust” and Sinn Féin’s pursuit of a border poll was self-serving.
Ms McDonald questioned his logic regarding the border poll being divisive.
“On that logic we should suspend elections because they are divisive,” she said.
She said the Republic was not just financially and economically bankrupt, but socially bankrupt too, presenting an opportunity to “create something new”.
“Citizens shouldn’t waste a good crisis to do something progressive. The process is not to extend what we have in the South but to have discussion and a plebiscite on creating something new,” she said.
The discussion was chaired by Vincent Kelly of the Evening Echo.
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