Adams again calls for border vote as Paisley Jnr brands Enda Kenny's comments 'pathetic'

Adams again calls for border vote as Paisley Jnr brands Enda Kenny's comments 'pathetic'

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has repeated his call for a referendum on a united Ireland in light of the Brexit fallout, saying the UK's controversial vote means there is a "timeframe there" to make a decision on the border within four years, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, political reporter.

The opposition TD made the claim after both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said they believe a border vote is now a prospect due to the decision by Britain to leave the EU.

Speaking at the MacGill summer school in the Glenties, Co Donegal, on Sunday Mr Martin said the situation was now a prospect.

While saying the issue was still a number of years away, the Fianna Fáil leader said the Brexit vote - and crucially the fact Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU - means the issue needs to be discussed, with practical matters such as merging two different health and taxation systems prioritised.

On Monday Taoiseach Enda Kenny went further, saying any post-Brexit talks should include a discussion on a united Ireland.

"The discussions and negotiations that take place over the next period should take into account the possibility, however far out it might be, that the clause in the Good Friday Agreement might be triggered.

"In the same way as East Germany was dealt with when the wall came down, and was able to be absorbed into West Germany and not have to go through a torturous and long process of applying for membership of the European Union," Mr Kenny said.

The Taoiseach's comments have been seen as an attempt to force the hand of leading EU nations such as Germany to give Ireland a special post-Brexit deal which would allow Ireland to continue our common travel area with Britain and to ensure there is no hard border with Northern Ireland - issues which appeared to be ruled out by German chancellor Angela Merkel in a Berlin meeting last week.

However, speaking to reporters in Leinster House today, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams (pictured) said the comments from both Mr Kenny and Mr Martin mean a referendum on a united Ireland is now on the agenda - with the post-Brexit vote's system for Britain leaving the EU meaning such a decision could be made within four years.

"The British decision to leave it [the EU] could take two years to negotiate out, and then another two years to negotiate an agreement [between Britain and the EU], so there is a time frame there.

"I would like to see a border poll yesterday, but the Taoiseach's language was qualified in so far as he said it won't happen for some time, but he's embraced the concept and will make that part of the Brexit negotiations and that's good," Mr Adams said.

The Sinn Féin leader said he does not know what is behind Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil's "change of heart" on the issue, but said he welcomed the move from "outright rejection to embrace".

Asked how a referendum could be brought forward when the new Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire has already ruled it out, he added: "Sometimes secretaries of state on their first day can be very, very short sighted.

"The technical trigger for this [a referendum] is the secretary of state, of course, but that was never going to be his or her decision, that is a decision for his and her governments. It was always above the pay scale of the secretary of state."

'Pathetic and deliberately mischievous'

Meanwhile, comments by Enda Kenny raising the prospect of a future vote on Irish unity were branded pathetic and deliberately mischievous by senior unionist Ian Paisley Jnr, the Press Association reports..

Mr Paisley said he "expected better" from Taoiseach Enda Kenny after Mr Kenny said EU/UK negotiations should factor in the possibility that a border poll could be held in years to come.

Referring to recent intense scrutiny of Mr Kenny's role as leader of the minority government, the DUP MP said the Taoiseach's time would be better served concentrating on his own future.

"It's quite pathetic - one would have expected better from him," said Mr Paisley.

"The Taoiseach is being deliberately mischievous...Enda should really be concentrating on his own future because we all know that he'll be lucky if he's still Taoiseach in 18 months.

"He's trying to 'out-green' Fianna Fáil for electoral gain, that's all they are about."

He added: "There's not going to be a border poll, that's the bottom line."

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