Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Belfast Telegraph exclusive poll on United Ireland

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 15/03/2010 | 11:14

New poll findings highlight a diversity of opinion over whether the province will still be part of UK in 2021

The people of Northern Ireland are split on whether the province will survive as a separate entity until its centenary in 2021, a Belfast Telegraph poll has revealed.

At the start of a week of celebrations marking St Patrick’s Day, the poll sheds new light on the long-standing question of nationhood in Northern Ireland.

It provides another fascinating snapshot of public opinion at a key time in our political history.

The vote is split — 42% agreeing and 42% disagreeing — on whether Northern Ireland will still be part of the United Kingdom by 2021. One in four Protestants (24%) said they thought there will be a united Ireland by then.

That year will mark 100 years since the Government of Ireland Act — which created Northern Ireland — came into force.

The poll also flags up the impact of the economic downturn in the Republic, with 55% of Catholics admitting a united Ireland is less likely because of its fiscal struggles.

Today’s survey is the latest in a series of Belfast Telegraph/Inform Communication polls which examine public opinion in post-devolution Northern Ireland.

The majority of respondents, 55%, believe Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK.

Asked how they would vote in a future referendum on a united Ireland, 36% said they would opt for unification. A breakdown shows 69% of Catholics in support of a united Ireland, with one in four stating Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK.

The last referendum on Irish unification was held in 1973 and found 98.9% in favour of Northern Ireland staying part of the UK.

However, the poll was boycotted by most nationalists, and represented around only 57% of the electorate at the time.

There have been growing calls for another referendum in recent years.

In 2002 then Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said a referendum would cement Northern Ireland’s position within the UK.

Meanwhile Sinn Fein minister Conor Murphy has also spoken about his hope that a referendum could be held before 2016.

The Belfast Telegraph survey confirms that nationality remains a key issue for people here.

Questioned on its relevance, 56% said it was “very important” with a further 32% describing it as “important”. Amongst Protestants, there appears to be a generation gap with 94% of those aged 65 and over describing it as “very important”, compared to 38% of those aged between 18 and 29.

Some 39% of those polled describe their nationality as “British”, with a further 18% stating they are “Northern Irish”. Again, there is a significant difference in responses from people of a certain age. Older people are more likely to consider themselves British, with those aged between 18 and 29 instead opting for Northern Irish status.

Meanwhile 42% said they considered themselves Irish, the vast majority (83%) being members of the Catholic community.

The opinion poll was undertaken by public affairs consultancy Inform Communications over the period March 8-11 2010. Across Northern Ireland 1020 adults were interviewed.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph