Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Northern Ireland more interested in the economy than politics, but most people don't trust Stormont to handle it, survey finds

Less than 40% trust Assembly when it comes to economy
Less than 40% trust Assembly when it comes to economy

More people in Northern Ireland are interested in the economy than politics, a survey has found.

Yet less than 40% of people trust the Assembly when it comes to the economy.

Just 39% of people surveyed for the community group umbrella organisation Nicva said they trust the Assembly, the same percentage of people who trust the European Union.

Westminster fares only slightly better, trusted by 44%. But some 73% trust community groups on the economy.

Ipsos MORI surveyed 994 people from October to November last year to give a representative sample of opinion in Northern Ireland.

While politics may seem to dominate the news agenda in Northern Ireland with the often tempestuous relationships between parties at Stormont, almost 60% of people say they are not interested in it, with only 40% admitting they are.

More people, 50%, said they are interested in the economy.

The older people are, and the higher their income, the more likely they were found to be interested in both politics and the economy.

Protestants and men were also found to be marginally more interested in both politics and the economy than Catholics.

The Nicva report, released today, also found that a party's economic policy is more important to them when choosing who to vote for than the constitutional issue.

Some 56% said a party's stance on whether Northern Ireland should remain as part of the UK or go into a united Ireland is important to them. This matter is much more important to Protestants (73%) than Catholics (43%).

Almost 70% said a party's economic policy was important to them when choosing how to vote.

And just 33% of people felt local parties have a good knowledge of the economy.

Community groups were found to be the most trusted to promote good economy policy (73%) followed by the business community (55%).

But political institutions and trade unions are apparently the least trusted to promote good economic policies.

Languishing at the bottom of the heap when it comes to being trusted with economic policies are the Northern Ireland Assembly and the EU (39%). Of the local political parties, the SDLP is the most trusted when it comes to economic policies.

The SDLP was trusted by 36% of respondents, followed by Alliance (31%), DUP (29%), UUP (26%), Green Party (22%), Sinn Fein (21%), TUV (11%), UKIP (10%) with our newest party NI21 performing worst, trusted by just 9% of those surveyed.

Nicva chief executive Seamus McAreavey said: "Sixteen years on from the 1998 agreement and as Northern Ireland still struggles to emerge from recession, Bill Clinton's famous slogan 'It's the economy, stupid' does not yet apply to this part of the world," he said.

"The parties could give more attention to economic policy, and more clearly communicate their position on economic matters," he added.

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