THE ongoing debate over a border poll is an opportunity to demonstrate the strengths and benefits of the union, a senior DUP member has said.
Jeffrey Donaldson said there was no public demand for a united Ireland and also urged disaffected unionists to engage with the Unionist Forum set up to address the flags crisis.
However, during his address at Orange Order event on Thursday night, Mr Donaldson did not indicate whether the DUP would agree to Sinn Fein’s call for a border poll.
On Friday, Gerry Adams launched Sinn Fein’s campaign for a border poll, which he said was an opportunity to outline the benefits of Irish unity.
“The Unionist Forum has been established recently and I encourage everyone within the unionist community to engage in whatever way they can.
“It doesn’t matter whether its meetings like this or meetings through the Forum, I get one message “unionism is stronger together,” Mr Donaldson said.
“Nationalist parties are offering a future, which people, regardless of their religion, simply do not want.
“This is an opportunity for a confident and united unionism to put forward our agenda of a peaceful Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom that is the very best place within the UK to live.
“There are those who stand against any realignment within unionism because of their vested interests. A united unionism is not a negative or backward step but can be a positive driving force to move Northern Ireland forward whilst cementing our constitutional position.
“We should not forget that whilst some parties talk about a shared future that it has been the leader of unionism who has set the agenda in actually building a better Northern Ireland. When Peter Robinson laid out a vision for shared education and of a majority of Catholics content with Northern Ireland’s constitutional position he was attacked and derided by some.”
The Lagan Valley MP added: “It is many of those same critics who attacked him then who now set their face against unionism standing stronger together. Those who have most to fear from a strong, confident unionism working together are often those who simply do not want to see a successful Northern Ireland together within the Union.”