POLITICAL FIGURES in both Sinn Féin and the DUP have reacted to recent comments from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar where he said that holding a united Ireland referendum would not be appropriate at this time.
"In my mind a border poll at this stage would be both divisive and defeated and that wouldn't be a good outcome for anyone," he said on BBC's Sunday Politics Northern Ireland yesterday.
He also clarified that he himself was in favour of a united Ireland at some point, but that other issues need to take priority.
The Tánaiste also called for greater clarity around when a referendum can be held, as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.
Following the remarks by Varadkar, Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan Matt Carthy has called for the British government to clarify the criteria for an Irish unity poll and said that the absence of clarity must not prevent political leaders from planning for the referendum.
“Of course it would be helpful if the British government clarified the criteria for an Irish unity poll," he said. "But, the absence of that clarity must not prevent us from planning for the referendum and the transition towards unity.
“A united Ireland can be a huge benefit to all the people of Ireland economically, socially and politically. Across the island, growing and exciting conversations are taking place about the positive changes Irish unity would bring to all communities. As such it is incumbent on political leaders to plan for it and work for it."
He said politicians "sticking their head in the sand... helps no-one and is only irresponsible."
"Through respectful conversations now, we can discuss the detail of how Irish unity can be delivered in a way that is inclusive. Together, we can work for a new Ireland, which has fairness, equality and inclusion at its heart. We can deliver high quality public services and unite our communities."
DUP East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons has said the Tánaiste should reflect on the ideology of powersharing and if he has no interest in the views of unionists then he should just be honest and call for majority rule.
"Leo Varadkar has consistently behaved like the proverbial bull in a china shop when it comes to powersharing," he said.
"His latest BBC interview was essentially a call for majority rule. If that’s his considered position then, as the incoming Taoiseach, he should be honest about his ultimate departure from the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements.
"Rather than trying to build a consensus and work for an outcome that unionists can support, Leo Varadkar ignores the fact that no unionist MLAs support the Protocol. Progress has only ever been in Northern Ireland with the support of unionists and nationalists."
He finished by saying that Varadkar should be "honest about his commitment to power sharing in the future" before he "spouts more views on Northern Ireland."