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Less than a quarter of TDs want to see Irish unity poll in north in next five years

The Republic's Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said a border poll at present would be "divisive" but expects to see a united Ireland "within my lifetime". Picture by Julien Behal, Press Association

LESS than a quarter of TDs want to see a border poll in Northern Ireland during the lifetime of the current Dáil.

Just 37 TDs, 23 of them from Sinn Féin, said they would be in favour of a poll in the north in the next five years.

The current Dáil, with 158 TDs, was elected earlier this year.

The survey, conducted by TheJournal.ie website, saw almost the same number of TDs - 33 - say they did not wish to see a vote on Irish unity in the next five years.

Three did not directly answer the questions, while the remainder of TDs did not reply.

All Sinn Féin TDs called for a border poll both north and south, with the exception of Dublin South-Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Apparently unaware of the requirements of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Ó Snodaigh said: "There is no need for a vote in this state, it's policy and constitutional to just have a vote in Northern Ireland."

On Monday night Mr Ó Snodaigh's office said he did not recall making those remarks.

A spokesman said: "Aengus believes there should be an all-Ireland referendum, north and south."

There were also divided opinions amongst the members of the Anti-Austerity Alliance, with four TDs opposed to a border poll in the north, stating that it "would be nothing more than a sectarian headcount and would resolve nothing."

However, the party's TDs Richard Boyd-Barrett and Gino Kenny, said they would be in favour of a vote on Irish unity.

A number of party leaders, including Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin, Labour's Brendan Howlin and Green leader Eamon Ryan, said they felt the time was not right for a border poll.

Offaly Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen, the brother of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, said a poll would be "too premature."

Seán Sherlock, Labour TD for Cork East, said that an immediate border vote, were it to fail, "could actually put the cause of reunification on the back foot for even longer."

Only two Fine Gael TDs supported a border poll in the north within the next five years.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar, also a Fine Gael TD, said he believes there will be a united Ireland "within my lifetime" but added that a border poll at the present time "could be unsuccessful and divisive".

The Good Friday Agreement states that it is for the people of Ireland "by agreement between the two parts respectively" to approve unity in the event of a vote in favour in the north.

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