The DUP will “continue to promote the benefits of the Union” for cultural, economic and social reasons, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.
Commenting on party leader Arlene Foster’s revelation that she would consider leaving Northern Ireland in the event of a united Ireland, made in a BBC interview with Patrick Kielty during the week, the Lagan Valley MP said the question was “hypothetical” as such a change had “no realistic prospect of” Irish unity.
“As Arlene Foster pointed out in the Patrick Kielty programme, ‘a united Ireland is not going to happen’,” Sir Jeffrey said.
“It was a hypothetical question as there is no realistic prospect of a united Ireland. Mrs Foster was reflecting how the Protestant population dwindled in the Republic of Ireland after partition. Those with a British identity did not feel welcome.”
Sir Jeffrey dismissed Sinn Fein pledges that unionists would be welcome in a united Ireland as “spin” in light of how Sinn Fein-controlled councils treat unionists.
“SF blocks armed forces recruitment days, wouldn’t present awards to cadet forces... relegate English to a second language, celebrate PIRA murderers, mock PIRA victims, snub the Royal Family and ban the sale of poppies.”
He added: “Whilst not broadcast on the programme, Arlene rightly pointed to the strong arguments for the Union whether the economy or our fantastic and invaluable National Health Service.
“It is always useful to debate and refresh the minds of the next generation as to why Northern Ireland’s place within the Union is so important whether from an historical, cultural, economic, social or security point of view.”