DUP MP criticises Robinson's suggestion of preparing for possibility of a united Ireland
DUP MP Sammy Wilson has likened the suggestion that unionists should prepare for the possibiity of a united Ireland to 'inviting arsonists in to burn your house'.
He was speaking to the News Letter after his former party leader Peter Robinson had suggested Northern Ireland should prepare for just such an eventuality, despite believing it to be a highly unlikely prospect.
Speaking at the Macgill Summer School in Co Donegal, the former DUP leader said: “I don’t expect my own house to burn down but I still insure it because it could happen.”
Mr Wilson, however, moved to strongly distance himself from such views, which he said “demoralises people”.
“It’s not going to happen, so why should I prepare for it,” Mr Wilson asked.
“I don’t prepare for a journey to the Moon because I’m never going to get on Richard Branson’s space rocket and fly to the Moon. So why would I prepare for a united Ireland when it’s not going to happen.”
He rejected Mr Robinson’s analogy of an insurance policy.
“I think that to even talk about preparing for a united Ireland – Peter says that’s like an insurance policy.
“It’s not like an insurance policy. It’s almost like inviting the arsonists in to burn your house.
“What you’re saying to people is ‘look, we are now worried that this is going to happen, we are preparing for it’.”
Mr Wilson said he preferred to “extol the values of the Union”, rather than speak about the prospect of a united Ireland.
“Talking like this is almost encouraging people,” he said of Mr Robinson’s comments.
“Sinn Fein pump out this propaganda that a united Ireland is inevitable. I don’t think that it is inevitable. Furthermore, and this is the important thing, I am going to make darn sure as a unionist that by the way in which I behave and the message which I give that nobody else wants there to be a united Ireland either because I want to sell the value of the Union.
“Just this week, in the House of Commons we had a great debate on the value of the Union, last Monday. I spoke in it. And the thing was people from every party, apart from the Scottish Nationalists and the Liberal Democrats who didn’t turn up, people from every party wanted to extol the value of the Union. I’m not alone with this.
“I want to join the other parties across the United Kingdom in extolling the value of the Union, not in preparing for the end of it.
“I don’t think the analogy is right. An insurance policy is to guard against something you don’t want to happen, but to talk in the way that Peter has is almost like an invitation.”
The chairman and former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Lord Empey, has said Mr Robinson’s comments will be “music to the ears of both the Republic of Ireland’s government and Irish republicans in general”.
Lord Empey added: “Peter Robinson is playing into the hands of our country’s opponents.”
TUV leader Jim Allister was also highly critical of Mr Robinson’s comments.
“No unionist with any wit, or exercising any strategic thought, would say anything to oxygenate Irish republicanism in its campaign for a border poll,” he said. “Yet, appallingly, that is precisely what Peter Robinson did.”