Sinn Féin MLA 'saddened' by Foster comments

By Stephen Walker
BBC News NI Political Correspondent

image captionArlene Foster shared her thoughts on the future with comedian Patrick Kielty

A Sinn Féin MLA has said he is saddened to hear Arlene Foster would consider leaving Northern Ireland if there was a United Ireland.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said the last thing unionism needed was "a leader who says rather than engage I am off."

In a BBC interview, the DUP leader said although unification was hypothetical, she was not sure she could stay.

"It's not going to happen, I don't have to worry about it I don't think anytime soon," she added.

Boats to Stranraer

"If it were to happen then I am not sure if I were able to continue to live here. I would feel so strongly about it," Mrs Foster told comedian Patrick Kielty in his documentary on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

image copyrightStena Line
image captionThe UUP's Robin Swann advised against "getting on the boats to Stranraer or Cairnryan"

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann took a different view.

"I am staying here," he said.

'Sense of confidence'

"I don't think people should be getting on the boats now to Stranraer or Cairnryan because of what has been said. I think there is a job of work to be done," Mr Swann added.

Paula Bradshaw of Alliance said she thought Mrs Foster should have couched her comments differently in order to give those who look to her for leadership "a sense of confidence that they will always have a place in this part of the world".

In a statement, the DUP said its party leader "was asked a hypothetical question and said there was no realistic prospect of a United Ireland".

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