Leading British politician calls for a united Ireland
A senior British politician has been slammed by critics after he reiterated his long held wish for a united Ireland.
The calls came from Jeremy Corbyn who recently won a landslide victory to become Leader of the Opposition.
Mr Corbyn is known for his left-wing politics which has led to many in the British establishment to label him a ‘threat to Britain’s national security’.
Speaking about the possibility of a united Ireland, Mr Corbyn said: “It’s an aspiration that I have always gone along with.”
Labour Party leader Mr Corbyn is a long-time supporter of a united Ireland. During the Troubles he regularly spoke at meetings of the Troops Out movement, which demanded the British withdraw their forces from Northern Ireland.
Mr Corbyn also invited Gerry Adams to Westminster just weeks after the Brighton bomb in 1984.
He was later accused of being ‘traitorous’ by the Conservative government when he helped Mr Adams promote his autobiography in the British Houses of Parliament in 1996.
Mr Corbyn recently said that the prospect of a united Ireland “has to be up to the people on both sides of the border”.
However, this wasn’t enough for many of his critics in the British government who say his views stand against democracy as a united Ireland would be against the wishes of the majority of people in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland Minister Ben Wallace said: “It is very important Corbyn doesn’t deviate from the consent principle, that the people of Northern Ireland determine their own future. Historically, leaders of all mainstream British parties have abided by that.”
The comments have come at a time when the Northern Irish parliament is in turmoil. In recent weeks both Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and British Prime Minister David Cameron have been called into crisis talks with Loyalist and Nationalist Northern Irish leaders to find a positive way forward for the six counties.
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: “Nothing Jeremy Corbyn says about Northern Ireland is going to be helpful or is designed to be helpful.
“What we now need is for the Labour Party to clarify its position on the principle of consent and Jeremy Corbyn needs to make clear whether he stands by the agreements made by Tony Blair which put the issue of consent at the heart of the constitutional arrangement in Northern Ireland.”
Former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Tom Elliott said: “He was very clear that Labour is committed to the consent principle as set out in the Belfast Agreement.
“Indeed he has also been unambiguous in the House of Commons that this is the position. What we have here is a party leader who is out of step with his own party’s position.”
The issue of a united Ireland is an extremely sensitive one with the majority of the population in Northern Ireland wanting to remain part of the UK.
However, a large minority wish to re-join the 26 counties in the Republic and become a united Ireland.
It is a deeply complicated subject with several factors leading to the current situation in which the island of Ireland is split into two countries. An 11 minute animated video does a great job of explaining 800 years of history which led to the six counties in Northern Ireland becoming a part of the UK. Click here to see the video animation