Northern Ireland

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson: No united Ireland in my lifetime

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (PA)
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (PA) DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (PA)

The DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said he is confident a united Ireland will not happen in his lifetime.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, he accused Westminster of trying to “bully” his party back into Stormont, and that neglect from successive Conservative governments had jeopardised Northern Ireland’s place in the union.

Boycotting Stormont since February 2022 over concerns with post-Brexit trading arrangements, pressure is mounting on Sir Jeffrey to make a decision on whether to restore the Assembly.

Disagreeing with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s recent claim a united Ireland would arrive in his own lifetime, Sir Jeffrey said such an arrangement would not accommodate his British identity.

“I don’t think there is going to be a united Ireland in my lifetime,” he said.

“I think the people of Northern Ireland will continue to vote to remain part of the sixth largest economy in the world. And to be part of a nation that has influence right across the globe.”

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He also said that the Good Friday Agreement already made it possible to represent both unionist and nationalist aspirations.

“A united Ireland would wipe those benefits away,” he said.

 “A united Ireland cannot accommodate my Britishness.”

“Some people have been complacent about the Union, about Northern Ireland’s place in the Union.”

On whether he was approaching an agreement over the Windsor Framework, he added: “Some in government seem to think that the way to get the institutions restored is to punish people and to basically bully people back into government. We don’t respond to that kind of behaviour.”

Last week, during an appearance on BBC Question Time he did offer that he believed that Westminster was “moving closer” to addressing his party’s concerns.

 “I think we are closer to finding a resolution than we were at the beginning of this process when no-one was listening, when the EU said there would be no renegotiation,” he said.

While he agreed that Northern Ireland’s finances had become unsustainable, he said that Stormont could only be resolved in a sustainable and cross-community basis.

“That is why the DUP at the outset, recognised that the solution for Northern Ireland was not to put a hard border on the island, but equally, the solution is not to put a border in the Irish Sea. There are ways we can resolve this.”