Ireland’s new government rules out ‘divisive’ border poll in favour of ‘peace and harmony’

A Border Communities Against Brexit poster before its unveiling at a demonstration in Carrickcarnon

A Border Communities Against Brexit poster before its unveiling at a demonstration in Carrickcarnon on the Irish border. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA. - Credit: PA

Ireland's prime minister has ruled out a border poll claiming it would be 'far too divisive at this stage', and instead wants to promote 'peace and harmony'.

Sinn Féin has been calling for a border poll amid the political turbulence caused by Brexit and uncertainty over future arrangements.

Micheál Martin told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: 'I want to inject greater momentum into the north-south dimension of the Good Friday Agreement, in terms of practical, pragmatic economic projects and activity that we can get under way'.

'I think, to me, a border poll is far too divisive at this stage, it doesn't deal with the more fundamental issue of how we continue to live and work together as we all live on this island, particularly in a post-Brexit scenario.'

The Taoiseach is due to visit Northern Ireland for his first time as Irish premier later this week.

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Martin also said more detail is needed on arrangements following Brexit, and expressed concern about the 'significant divergences' remaining between the EU and the UK on a post-Brexit trade agreement.

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'I think there has been some progress in terms of a paper that the UK government published, but we do need more detail, we need more precision.

'I think we need an injection of momentum into the overall talks between the European Union and the United Kingdom in relation to Brexit,' he said.

'I had a very fruitful discussion with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, after I took office. I think we both agreed that it's in everybody's interest, particularly in terms of businesses and giving them certainty, that we get a good comprehensive trade deal between the UK and European Union.

'Our concern is time is tight in relation to all of the mechanisms that have to be gone through in terms of getting the sanction and the approval of the EU member states and the European Parliament and our respective governments.'

The Taoiseach said he believes the European Court of Justice is just one of 'a number of sticking points' in discussions.

First minister Arlene Foster told the Sunday Politics programme that she and deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill will meet Martin jointly.

The pair have not appeared together since the row over O'Neill's attendance among huge crowds at the funeral of veteran republican Bobby Storey in west Belfast on June 30.

Foster said: 'We will welcome him to Northern Ireland to have discussions, respecting jurisdictions, making sure that we look forward to the future in a way that doesn't do any damage to the relationships which have come under pressure in over the last couple of years.'

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