Arlene Foster: I don't expect united Ireland referendum in my lifetime

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster

Former Northern Ireland first minister Arlene Foster has said she does not expect to see a referendum on a united Ireland in her lifetime.

The DUP leader dismissed renewed talk of a border poll on the issue, which has been driven largely by Sinn Fein.

During an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Foster was asked if she was confident there would not be a border poll in her lifetime.

She replied: "I'm very confident about that.

"One of the difficulties with Brexit is the fact that people are superimposing Brexit on another issue, which of course in Scotland is independence and in Northern Ireland is a united Ireland.

"There are many unionists who voted to remain within the European Union, but if they were asked the question around staying in the United Kingdom or going into a united Ireland, they would very firmly say that they wanted to stay in the United Kingdom, for all of the reasons I have spoken about.

"It won't happen."

Ms Foster said the forthcoming Westminster elections were an opportunity to "send a very clear message" about Northern Ireland's place in the UK, as she denied that Brexit had fuelled republicanism.

Ms Foster also hinted that technology could ease the issue of a hard border with the south, citing the example of the border between Norway and Sweden.

"I'm not saying that we copy what goes on there, but I am saying there are already examples," she said.

Ms Foster stepped down as first minister earlier this year in the fallout from a renewable energy scheme, which has led to the collapse of the executive in Northern Ireland.