Meeting of ‘hearts and minds’ needed before border poll can happen – Taoiseach

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said there needs to be a meeting of “hearts and minds” before a border poll can take place.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 8:41 pm
Handout photo issued by Julien Behal Photography of Taioseach Micheal Martin during a press briefing at Government Buildings, Dublin,

The Fianna Fail leader also said that Belfast needs to get rid of its peace walls.

Mr Martin told Newstalk FM’s The Hard Shoulder that he never thought there would be peace in Northern Ireland.

Mr Martin was part of Bertie Ahern’s government when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998.

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“My teenage years was bombs and bullets every day in the news, one atrocity after the other,” he added.

“When the Downing Street declaration happened it was magic to watch.

“I was a politician at the time. To be even a TD was a privilege.

“To be a government minister when the Good Friday Agreement happened, these were incredibly big changes.

“More changes will happen.

“I see new generations emerging on the island and in the North that will shape change in the North and shape attitudes and relationships for the better with the South.”

Mr Martin said there is a new “middle ground” emerging in Northern Ireland.

Asked about what lies ahead for Northern Ireland and Ireland and whether there might be a border poll or a united Ireland, Mr Martin said there needs to be a meeting of “hearts and minds”.

“If there’s an ease of relationship. If we can get rid of the peace walls. We still have too many peace walls in Belfast,” he added.

“Let’s get people more comfortable.

“A lot can happen in my lifetime but the exact precise nature of it…”

A poll published earlier this week suggested that people in Northern Ireland would vote to remain in the UK if a referendum was called in the present day.

Of those surveyed, 49% said they would vote to stay in the UK while 43% would support a united Ireland. The remainder were undecided.

The Lucid Talk poll, which had a sample size of 2,845 and a 2.5% margin of error, was conducted for BBC NI’s Spotlight programme.