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“Does Paterson fear result of Border Poll?” - McLaughlin

7 March, 2012

Responding to British Secretary of State, Owen Paterson’s statement that ‘he has no intention of holding a border poll’Sinn Féin spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin said:

“Once more Owen Paterson’s dismissive arrogance shows through. Is it because he fears the result of a border poll? The Good Friday Agreement commits both governments in the event of a simple majority (50% plus one) in favour of Irish unity to immediately legislate for it.

“Given the changing political landscape in the past 14 years since the acceptance of the Agreement by the people of Ireland, I believe that it is time to test the mood of the people. I had suggested previously that consideration should have been given to the inclusion in the 2011 census of a question on constitutional preference – United Ireland or United Kingdom.

“This would have given the British Secretary of State a foundation on which to base his decision instead of arrogantly dismissing such an exercise without any consideration of how it could inform political development on the island of Ireland and with the island of Britain.

“The GFA stipulates that when ‘the British Secretary of State deems that sufficient support may be present for constitutional change that s/he will call a border poll’. While there is no specific mechanism identified to inform him/her on how to gauge when those conditions prevail, neither does it suggest that s/he should, without tangible information on which to base a decision, to arbitrarily dismiss consideration of such an exercise. Can Mr Paterson explain how he informed himself that the conditions do not pertain?

“I believe that as we enter a decade of significant anniversaries, including the Partition of Ireland, that the British government has missed an opportunity to show that during this period it would, along with other parties, enter into a spirit of inclusivity and respect for the diversity of political and constitutional aspirations on the island of Ireland."

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