Senior unionists have dismissed a poll supporting Irish unity as “irrelevant” and “a complete distraction”.
Democratic Unionist MP Gregory Campbell said the results of a survey carried out in the Irish Republic had no standing as the people of Northern Ireland alone would determine their future, while Danny Kennedy of the UUP described the poll as “irrelevant”.
Both men were commenting after two out of three people surveyed said they supported unity.
Pollster Red C said its latest survey shows a sharp rise in support for reunification since a similar opinion poll six years ago.
Asked how they would vote if a referendum was held tomorrow, 65 per cent of the sample electorate said they would vote in favour of a united Ireland.
Some 30 per cent said they would vote against it, while five per cent said they were undecided.
Mr Campbell said he was “reasonably heartened” to learn that 30 per cent south of the border do not support unity. He also said the number of people against a united Ireland would “rise considerably” once the “massive cost implications” became clear.
“But whether its 30 per cent or 60 per cent it doesn’t really matter – it’s not an issue for the people of the Irish Republic, it’s an issue for the people of Northern Ireland and we don’t wish to join them,” the East Londonderry MP added.
Mr Kennedy described the poll as “irrelevant and unnecessary”.
“It is a complete distraction to the current problems facing both the UK and indeed the Republic of Ireland and it is simply not on the agenda. The constitutional position of Northern Ireland is secure and there is no reason to even initiate a border poll to test that.”
The Newry & Armagh MLA added: “Brexit has caused a major political ripple but I think some people need to face the political reality. It does not in any way trigger even a debate on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland remaining a part of the United Kingdom.”