No weighted advantage for unionists in poll - O’Neill

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The notion that a weighted majority should be necessary to secure Irish unity in a border poll would “turn democracy on its head”, according to Sinn Féin’s deputy leader.

Michelle O’Neill described the suggestion as “illogical and a total non-starter”.

Ms O’Neill spoke out after the North’s former chief electoral officer said a small majority for nationalists in a border poll should be ignored as it would lead to greater political and social instability.

A number of establishment figures in Ireland and Britain have now called for unionists to be protected from any majority which might vote in favour of Irish reunification.

Ms O’Neill said the conversation on the constitutional future of Ireland was growing and that Brexit had accelerated those discussions.

She said she welcomed an inclusive debate about Ireland’s future and that it was discussion which should belong to “all citizens on this island and to the wider Irish diaspora”.

“In response to the growing energy of this debate, some opponents of democratic change have suggested that a referendum on the constitutional future of Ireland should feature a weighted majority in favour of maintaining the union,” she said.

“This suggestion is illogical and a total non-starter. Increasing the threshold needed for constitutional change would be to turn democracy on its head and would undermine the principles of the Good Friday Agreement.

“That agreement is the cornerstone of our peace and political progress and provides a democratic route to Irish unity. Ideas that undermine agreed and hard won avenues of peaceful and democratic change must be firmly and resolutely rejected.

“The Good Friday Agreement cannot be dismantled and reconstructed to give preference or a privileged position to unionism. Those days are gone and are not coming back.”

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