Foster disappointed by Taoiseach comment on Britain ‘losing interest’ in NI

Foster disappointed by Taoiseach comment on Britain ‘losing interest’ in NI

Micheál Martin and Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster has said she is disappointed to hear that the Taoiseach’s office is preparing for Britain to “lose interest” in Northern Ireland.

The Shared Island Unit was set up in Micheál Martin’s office earlier this year to “work towards a consensus on a shared island”.

The Taoiseach said it is preparing for the possibility that Britain may get “turned off” Northern Ireland.

Mr Martin acknowledged there are “two distinct political jurisdictions” on the island, adding “we have to acknowledge the reality of that”.

However, he went on to speculate around the potential impact of English nationalism, Brexit and the possibility of Scotland leaving the United Kingdom on Northern Ireland’s membership of the union.

“What happens if England gets turned off Northern Ireland? We’ve got to be thinking all this through,” Mr Martin told the Irish Independent newspaper.

First Minister Arlene Foster (centre) and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill greet Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA)

“They may just say ‘we’re not as committed to it as we were in the past’. That may not happen for quite some time, but we have to be prepared for all sorts of eventualities.”

But Mr Martin ruled out the possibility of a border poll, describing it as “too divisive and too threatening”.

Mrs Foster expressed her disappointment over the comments, coming just a week after what she described as a positive meeting of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC).

“A good neighbourly N/S relationship requires consistency,” she tweeted.

“After a positive NSMC, the Taoiseach’s comments are disappointing.

“The principle of consent determines NI’s place in the U.K. NI will keep moving forward by respecting our diverse identities not dubious theories.”

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