Border poll considered by DUP, says Foster

image captionArlene Foster said a poll would show a clear majority want to remain in the UK

The Democratic Unionist Party may support Sinn Fein's campaign for a referendum on Irish unity, the enterprise minister has said.

Arlene Foster told BBC Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan Show she had held discussions with senior colleagues, including party leader Peter Robinson.

She said the feeling was a pro-union vote would consolidate Northern Ireland's position within the UK.

Sinn Fein is pushing for a border poll.

Last week, Mitchel McLauglin of Sinn Fein told the assembly: "People have the chance to change the constitutional position on this island.

"If it could happen tomorrow I would, but I will wait for a chance to do it democratically."

Meanwhile, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said he does not believe a poll should be held in the near future.

Answering questions in the Irish parliament (Dail) from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Mr Kenny said there was a lot of work to do on both sides of the border before people's mentality and views changed about the future of the island.


Ms Foster told the BBC on Tuesday a border poll would show that a clear majority of people in Northern Ireland want to remain in the United Kingdom.

"Sinn Fein are trying to cause instability in Northern Ireland," she said.

"If we have the border poll then that instability goes away and, in actual fact, what we have is a very clear validation of the union and that's something we're looking at at the moment.

"So I'm saying to Mitchel McLaughlin and I'm saying to him very clearly, 'We may just call your bluff on this one Mitchel, and be very careful what you wish for'."

Mr McLaughlin said the DUP approach was "refreshing".

"We will accept and we will respect the outcome of that referendum," he said.

Previously, the DUP has said that a referendum on a united Ireland would be a "waste of money".

The Good Friday Agreement contains a provision for a border poll.

The power to trigger such a referendum does not reside with the Stormont parties, but the secretary of state.

However, Theresa Villiers' office has said she has no plans to call for such a referendum.

A border poll was last held in Northern Ireland in March 1973. It was largely boycotted by nationalists.

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