After the new Taoiseach Micheál Martin ruled out a referendum on a united Ireland describing it as too “divisive” and “partisan”, unionists, nationalists and republicans on either side of the Border have been debating the issue.

Mr. Martin said he wanted to look at a closer relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, telling Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald that the all-island unit to be established in his department will be focused on how to “develop a shared future”.

He said the agenda for the future of the island is about developing an accommodation so “we can all live in peace and harmony and not to try to dictate to one tradition about what the solution is going to be which seems to be the agenda you’re pursuing”.

He said the Belfast Agreement was based on three sets of relationships: British-Irish; North-South; and the two traditions within Northern Ireland. He said that “irrespective of what may emerge in the future, it is my view that these three sets of relationships will have to underpin any future arrangements”.

Enniskillen Councillor Paul Blake agrees with Mr. Martin, telling The Impartial Reporter that he would “caution against anyone who talk of Border polls.”

“It is unhelpful and a knew-jerk reaction to the current political climate. Post Covid/Brexit are not the time to talk about changing the constitutional position of NI.

“The Taoiseach has talked about a shared Ireland, and I welcome the setting up of a new Ireland commission to bring together everybody’s thoughts unionists and nationalist on a shared Ireland should look,” he said.

Stuart Brooker, Assistant Grand Master at the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said he does not see a united Ireland happening “in the foreseeable future.”

“In fact, it's something that we won’t be entering into dialogue about. Why? Because we don’t want one.”

Mr. Brooker describes the term ‘shared island’ as “the latest soundbite”, adding that it “does not mean shared sovereignty, nor should the context be one of a shared Ireland, which could be read as one country with differing traditions.”

“We live on an island that is made up of two countries with many traditions shared across that island,” he said.

Sinn Fein’s Chris McCaffrey accused the Fianna Fáil leadership of “being guilty of sitting on their hands around Irish unity, something that 26 county parties have being doing since partition.”

He said Mr. Martin “must wake up to the reality that big changes are coming to our island.”

“I believe it is utterly foolish to ignore the changing political climate in the six counties as well as the practical, pragmatic and economic need for Irish unity to protect against the devastation that Brexit will bring to all sectors across our island this coming December,” he said.

Fianna Fáil’s Blacklion Councillor John Paul Feely disagrees with his leader’s stance, saying his party “have been the leaders of constitutional republicanism.”

“A United Ireland is a core objective of the party and a key issue for the vast majority of our members. As a party we must provide leadership on the issue.

“A referendum should be held but we have a very clear example with Brexit of having a referendum but not having any idea of how to implement the result. Detailed groundwork must be laid.

“A simple majority is enough to retain the current constitutional arrangement and a simple majority must be enough to change it but a United Ireland cannot be governed on a majoritarian system, it must recognise the different parts of the community.

“If it does not then we would be no better than the Stormont of old. Therefore detailed engagement and planning must be done to build a truly United Ireland,” he said.