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Trying to convince unionists of the benefits of a united Ireland is 'insulting'

Pacemaker Belfast 01/07/2014.East Belfast Mini Twelfth .Orange Order chaplain Mervyn Gibson pictured at The Somme Commemoration Parade also known as The East Belfast Mini Twelfth parade taking place on the Albertbridge Road with a total of 37 bands took part in the parade, organised by the Ballymacarrett District lodge No 6. Picture By: Aidan Oâ??Reilly Pacemaker Press..

One of Northern Ireland's most senior Orangeman has described the current push to persuade unionists of the benefits of Irish unity post Brexit as "insulting"

Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, Rev Mervyn Gibson said he "finds it insulting when people even try and convince me of a unionist place in a united Ireland."

"I'm British, I was born British, I will die British and I want no part of a United Ireland, I can't be bought, I can't be bribed," he said.

"I've signed a few Irish passport forms but I wouldn't apply for one on principle because I'm British.

"To assume I would want to change or could be convinced is like saying you could convince people in the south to re-join the Commonwealth, they would be aghast, they would be offended and that's how I feel when people try to persuade me to be part of a United Ireland.

"So, no, I don't want to be part of a United Ireland, I don't care if I'm financially worse off, I'm not for sale," he said.

Rev Gibson added that despite the late Martin McGuinnesss' IRA past the Orange Order found it easier to deal with the former Deputy First Minister, saying Gerry Adams leading the party without his influence "should make the country nervous".

"For me I think Adams is very unpredictable, with McGuinness previously there was a predictability, I think you could deal with McGuinness easier than you could with Adams.

"There were certainties there but that all went with the Robinson and McGuinness era.

"What we have now should make us all nervous, not just unionists, I think it should make the country nervous," he said.

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Rev Gibson, who voted in favour of Brexit, says he thinks Sinn Féin see Britain leaving the EU as "useful tool in their propaganda machine".

"I was in favour of Brexit and returning sovereignty to the UK in general, I was fed up with EU telling us what to do.

"Regarding the border, as long as there is a border and it stays where it is I don't care if it is hard, soft or whatever.

"Preferably it'll be a soft border, but that will be in the hands of Europe, it won't be in the hands of the UK.

"You can see how Sinn Féin think it is useful for their propaganda machine, but it won't be the Holy Grail they think it is, it won't be a ticket to a United Ireland", he said.

And Rev Gibson said despite DUP leader Arlene Foster's crocodile comments regarding the Irish language being credited with mobilising the nationalist electorate, he believes it was "a great analogy and worked extremely well".

"It was just part of the cut and thrust of politics, it wasn't a major thing.

"If it is for enthusiasts then I've no issue with the Irish language and that's why it's good that the debate has moved on to asking Sinn Féin to spell out what they actually want.

"If it's being used as a stepping stone to a United Ireland or for political purposes than of course we will object," he added.

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