Leo Varadkar claims border poll could undermine relations with North

A border poll may undermine relations with the North and would be “unsuccessful”, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has insisted.

Although he believed in a united Ireland in his lifetime, he has cautioned against holding such a referendum in the short term.

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School yesterday, the Minister for Social Protection also disagreed strongly with the Government Chief Whip’s comments which suggested that Fianna Fáil now wield more power than they would have in a minority government.

Regina Doherty had told reporters at the summer school in Glenties, Co Donegal, the main opposition party had been given considerable power in the Dáil.

“They have power right now and maybe more power right now than they would have if they were in a minority government,” she said.

But yesterday Mr Varadkar denied this was the case.

“I don’t think it is correct to say that they have more power than they would have in government.”

He added that the new minority government had been “slow to get started”.

Mr Varadkar said this was down to the fact it took so long to form a government. “We have actually got some legislation through over the last week or two. The ball is rolling now. The Housing Action plan was very much the government’s plan; it didn’t have the pre-authorisation of Fianna Fáil.”

On the issue of a border poll, raised by Taoiseach Enda Kenny this week, Mr Varadkar said: “I would like to see a united Ireland and I do believe there will be a united Ireland in my lifetime although I don’t know at what point in my lifetime.

“Fine Gael is a united Ireland party that remains an objective. However, I don’t feel a border poll would be a good idea at this time.

“I think it would be unsuccessful and divisive and could undermine relations between the two communities’ there and undermine relations with the unionist parties in particular. So I don’t think it is a good idea at this time. We need to achieve a unity of purpose before that time.”

Speaking in Glenties on Monday last, Mr Kenny opened the possibility of reunification and said it would have to be considered in the context of Britain’s exit from the EU. But he later softened this line when he told the Dáil there would be no border poll now. “There is no evidence of a majority wanting to join the Republic,” he said.

The head of Europol, Rob Wainwright also weighed into the issue of a border poll while attending Glenties this week when he said he does not believe a united Ireland would spark acts of terrorism in Northern Ireland.

Mr Wainwright said he was “rather optimistic” that a border poll of reunification wouldn’t mean a return of violence as we have “come a long way since the Troubles”.

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