So is it Colum Eastwood, the SDLP leader, or the members of the press who are sending mixed messages on the regional party’s attitude to the post-Brexit calls for a reunification referendum? From a short piece by the Irish Examiner:
“Colum Eastwood has said that the reunification of Ireland is “the biggest and best idea around” adding that it would be a “natural” way forward in the context of Britain leaving the EU.
His comments come after Enda Kenny this week opened up the possibility of a border poll in the context of Brexit negotiations.
Mr Eastwood, who was speaking in Glenties this morning said: “Much of the headline talk at MacGill this week has focused on the prospect of a further constitutional change through the calling of a border poll.
This is a natural and welcome development.”
He told those attending the summer school that the events of the past few months have proven that “political life can no longer afford to presume the permanence of anything”.
“The SDLP, as a party, continues to believe that the reunification of Ireland is the biggest and the best idea around.
He added: “Scottish independence campaigners produced a 670-page document outlining the path to independent nationhood and how it would operate.
“It was credible and detailed. Irish nationalism now needs to start on its page one.”
Meanwhile the Irish Times reports that:
“SDLP leader Calum Eastwood has said talk of a “Border poll” is “silly right now” and that the political situation in the North needed to be carefully managed to avoid “rocking the stability that is hard won”.
“We can talk about a Border poll down the line, but we want a Border poll we can actually win” said the MLA for Foyle on The Irish Times Inside Politics podcast, recorded at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal.
Brexit has “rocked nationalism to its core” in Northern Ireland, according to Mr Eastwood, who used his address at MacGill to argue against Northern Ireland “being dragged out of the EU against its will”.
“No matter how often Theresa May repeats that Brexit means Brexit, we must strongly reply that consent means consent,” he said.”
As with many in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, some in the SDLP tend to forget that being a half-a-nationalist is as credible as being a half-a-virgin.