'No tipping point' for Irish border poll, says UUP leader Doug Beattie
ULSTER Unionist leader Doug Beattie has rejected a suggestion by Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald that preparations need to begin for an Irish unity poll.
Speaking in New York last week Ms McDonald claimed that over the next five to ten years a decision will be made "in respect of the constitutional future of Ireland".
She said she has already raised with the Irish and US administrations the "absolute urgency and need to begin preparations now for that constitutional transition".
The Sinn Féin leader added that this is "a moment of great optimism and excitement for Ireland".
"I don't believe that anybody should come to the reunification debate with a heavy heart or a sense of foreboding, but with an eye on the biog prize, an eye on the win for everyone," she added.
The UUP leader however took to Twitter to reject the suggestion that there is a push for Irish unity as well as speaking to BBC NI's Sunday Politics.
"This rhetoric is played out each year to an eager and willing audience," he said.
"There is no threshold, no preparations, no tipping point.
"We’re no closer to a United Ireland than we were 20 years ago.
"Romanticism will not guide this argument but facts will.
"Other views are available."
Speaking on Sunday Politics he said in his view a border poll could be as far away as 30 years, but said he is not “threatened” by talk of a united Ireland as he doesn’t “think it is going to happen”.
While he admitted Brexit had “changed the narrative” he said unionism should not engage in the debate at present.
“I am not threatened because I don’t think it is going to happen. If people want to talk about it they can talk about it but I am allowed to give my opinion also,” he said.
“When people say we are on a trajectory, which is seeing a united Ireland, I literally do not think that.
“If Mary Lou is saying between five and ten years, I am saying no. I don’t think it is going to be anywhere near five or ten years, 20 years, or 30years. I think it is way down the road. Nobody has put anything on the table.”
He added: “I think it is really unreasonable for anyone to think I as a unionist should help with the architecture around the argument for a united Ireland by engaging in it.
“I don’t need to. Where we get to the stage where we have to do this, we will engage in order to put our point across for staying in the UK.”