Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin ‘planning border poll' following Stormont election, claims DUP

DUP MLA Peter Weir. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Rebecca Black, PA

Sinn Féin is planning a border poll if it emerges on top following the Stormont election, the DUP has claimed.

Polls have suggested that Sinn Féin is set to overtake the DUP to become the largest party in the Assembly.

As largest party, Sinn Féin would be entitled to nominate a first minister, however the DUP is unlikely to nominate a deputy first minister to serve alongside in the joint top office.

It is up to the secretary of state to call a border poll. It is believed this would only happen if a majority appeared likely to vote for a united Ireland.

DUP Strangford candidate Peter Weir claimed that Sinn Féin has been telling its US-based supporters that it intends to “make history” with a poll for a united Ireland.

“Sinn Féin’s sights at this election are fixed firmly on a divisive border poll,” he said.

“There has been no Road to Damascus experience at Connolly House. In reality, SF activists are still touting the opportunity to ‘make history’ to wealthy US donors and on the doorsteps.

“Every vote on May 5 will decide the future direction of Northern Ireland. Each ballot cast will set the priorities for the next Assembly. Sinn Féin should tell the truth about their plans to consign our communities to years of arguing and fighting over a border poll rather than focus on the issues that matter.”

Mr Weir claimed the DUP “is the only party that can stop Sinn Féin’s border poll plans”.

“This election is a wake-up call for unionism. Sinn Féin’s recently discovered concern over the cost-of-living crisis is more about keeping unionists at home on polling day than it is about helping ordinary people,” he said.

“It is clear that not voting, or giving a first preference vote to any party other than the DUP, will divide and weaken the unionist cause. This will only cement Sinn Féin’s destructive vision for Northern Ireland.”

Sinn Féin has been approached for a response to these claims.

Earlier this week, former deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill said while there would come a day when people would vote on Northern Ireland’s constitutional future, their focus at present is on the cost-of-living crisis.

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