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McDonald on front of a mural of Bobby Sands on the Falls Road in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Images
Border poll

Mary Lou McDonald says 'a chaotic Brexit' is not the time to seek a united Ireland

The Sinn Féin leader says that a hard Brexit is not good news for her party.

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has said that a “crash Brexit” would not be the time to look at the Border poll or a united Ireland.

Speaking to the Press Association, McDonald said that a chaotic post-Brexit situation is “not a good news story for Sinn Féin”.

The party has previously stated that a vote on Irish unification should happen within five years but McDonald says it should not be pushed through.

McDonald said that Brexit creates “a problem” because a majority in Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU.

“The obvious thing would be to say, ‘well, have the Border poll and remove the Border. If the Border is the problem, simply take it away’. And there is a certain logic to that,” McDonald said.

I am very, very conscious that you can’t come at this issue in that simplistic way. It’s very important when we come to addressing the issue of partition we do it in the best possible climate and we do it in a way that maximises consent.

So to say to you, to be clear on this, it is not my preferred option or our preferred option that we deal with the issue of Irish unity in a climate that is unsteady or unstable or chaotic, in other words in the context of a crash Brexit or a very hard Brexit.

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“I don’t want those things to happen, that is by no means ideal, and despite what the commentariat might say from time to time, that is not a good news story for Sinn Féin,” the Dublin TD added.

“We’re very, very conscious that the ‘how’ of doing this really, really matters. It matters by the way for the whole country, for the whole island, but it matters particularly here in the north, given the experience that aren’t long part of conflict.”

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School last week, former DUP leader Peter Robinson said that he did not envisage a united Ireland happening but that he felt it was wise for unionists to prepare for it regardless.

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