Coveney says Citizens' Assembly on border poll 'not even on the radar'

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney shot down any claims that the election results have brought a border poll closer, arguing that “the balance between the nationalist vote and the unionist vote hasn’t changed hugely”.
Coveney says Citizens' Assembly on border poll 'not even on the radar'

Kenneth Fox

Convening a Citizens’ Assembly on a border poll is “not even on the radar” of the Government, despite the historic outcome of the Northern Ireland elections.

As the Irish Examiner reports, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney shot down any claims that the election results have brought a border poll closer, arguing that “the balance between the nationalist vote and the unionist vote hasn’t changed hugely”.

He added that it was the “middle ground” Alliance Party, which more than doubled its seats, represents “outstanding change”.

Sinn Féin has secured 27 Assembly seats, making it the largest party in Northern Ireland, ahead of the DUP, which won 25 seats.

Naomi Long’s Alliance Party has gone from nine to 17 seats, making it the third-largest party in Stormont.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald yesterday called on the Taoiseach to convene a Citizens’ Assembly to examine a united Ireland border poll in the wake of the Northern Ireland elections.

She told Newstalk radio that politicians on both sides of the border must now accept that “we are in times of very profound change”. She added:

That change has to be managed, because we’ve seen, for example, in the Brexit experience, just how chaotic things can become if there isn’t that level of planning and that level of engagement.

“I think the Citizens’ Assembly needs to be triggered by the Taoiseach, this process needs to be led by Dublin, in my view.”

However, this has been dismissed, with a Government spokesperson stating: “I don’t think that’s anything that’s imminent”.

“The Taoiseach has been quite consistent in saying there’s a time and a place for that,” the spokesperson said. “We have got to make the Good Friday Agreement work first.”

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