Unionists have majority Sinn Fein leader in tense exchange in unified Ireland probe

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald quizzed on Unionist 'majority'

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The pair became embroiled in a row after Susanna Reid suggested Unionist parties continued to hold a majority in Northern Ireland despite Sinn Fein winning the most seats in this month’s Assembly Election. Mary Lou McDonald insisted the victory handed her Sinn Fein a mandate to pursue a campaign for a referendum on a unified Ireland, which she predicted would happen in the next 10 years. But the Good Morning Britain presenter noted the DUP and other Unionist groups like the UUP and the TUV together held more seats.

Ms McDonald however pointed out that adding the votes of the other pro-referendum parties to those of Sinn Fein indicated a majority in favour of a vote for the reunification of Ireland.

The GMB presenter said: “It has to be pointed out that Unionists won more seats than Sinn Fein won. Collectively.”

But Ms McDonald said: “They didn’t, actually.”

Ms Reid hit back: “The DUP has 25, the UUP has 9. And you have 27.”

The Sinn Fein leader replied: “But Sinn Fein is not the only non-Unionist party. You have the SDLP, you have the Alliance Party.

“And, in fact, the Unionists’ electoral majority has been gone in the last number of elections in the north of Ireland.

“What makes the recent election exceptional is that Sinn Fein emerges as the largest party, and for the first time, a republican, a nationalist – Michelle O’Neill – emerges as the First Minister-elect.”

She also insisted having a poll on bringing the two Irish nations together should not be seen with “dread” but rather as a “democratic opportunity” for all citizens.

 

Sinn Fein leader says Northern Ireland is left in 'limbo'

She continued: “I believe we’re going to have referendums on unity in this decade. I believe the constitutional arrangement will change and I believe we all need to prepare for this.

“I also think we shouldn’t come at this with a sense of dread, or fear, or loss. We need to look at this as an incredible democratic opportunity.

“Partition has been disastrous for Ireland, it has been disastrous for Britain as well. We’ve had division, we’ve had conflict.

“But we’ve had almost a quarter of a century of a very robust peace process and the time is now looming where we bring this journey to its conclusion.

“An end of partition, a reunified Ireland in peace and security, and with a good neighbourly, strong, relationship with Britain, our next-door neighbor.”

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