Northern Ireland news

Trevor Lunn tells Dublin to set out case for united Ireland

Trevor Lunn said Brexit and the attitude of the British government had transformed the north's political landscape. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

FORMER Alliance Party chairman Trevor Lunn has said the Dublin government should begin discussions on a united Ireland, while unionism must "make the case" for maintaining ties with Britain.

The Lagan Valley MLA, who split with Alliance earlier this year due to "irreconcilable differences", said Brexit and the "attitude of the British government" had transformed the north's political landscape.

In the past year both Mr Lunn's former leader Naomi Long and deputy leader Stephen Farry have both voiced a willingness to engage with discussions about Irish unity.

Mrs Long told The Irish News in March that her party would be "letting down the people we represent" if it did not take part in any talks about a potential united Ireland, while in July Mr Farry told this newspaper that economic and financial aspects of unification would "need to be properly stress tested" before a border poll.

Mr Lunn told the Irish Independent he classed himself as “a slightly unionist- leaning politician” but was also part of a growing group of "undecided citizens" on the constitutional issue.

“I’d say to the southern government, don’t wait for a referendum to put some of these things on the table – they shouldn’t wait until we get into the heat of a referendum campaign before they do it," he said.

"Lay it out in some sort of document. Let people absorb it, give them time for reflection and a proper consideration of the issues. Doing it in advance would be a very useful exercise in the interests of certainty and to give a measure of reassurance about the matters that concern people."

He told Dublin's Micheál Martin-led administration: Don't be afraid of offending unionism. Unionism is easily offended. They don’t speak for everybody up here."

Mr Lunn said he expected a border poll within the next five years.

“Let’s talk about it – that’s all I say.

"I’m not advocating for a united Ireland – I’m saying it’s a process we need to get into."

Both the DUP and Ulster Unionists have ruled out engagement with he taoiseach's Shared Island Unit, an initiative welcomed by British prime minister Boris Johnson.

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