Belfast Telegraph

Majority of NI voters want reform of Stormont, according to latest polling

By Claire Williamson

The majority of the Northern Ireland voter base wants the Stormont Executive reformed, latest polling suggests.

The deadline to strike a deal to restore the power-sharing institutions is fast approaching and discussions are ongoing for parties to find agreement by tomorrow.

Belfast-based polling and market research company LucidTalk carried out a survey to gauge public opinion as part of its monthly tracker poll.

It found that 60% of the Northern Ireland voter base wants the institutions reformed.

However, 16% want a period of direct rule, but with the long-term aim of restoring the power-sharing institutions.

Essentially, they support the reformation of Stormont, but after it has been "well sorted out", as one comment put it - i.e. a period of direct rule with ongoing discussions.

Some 60% of Sinn Fein voters want the Stormont Executive re-established - roughly the same as the overall figure for Northern Ireland. The second favourite option for Sinn Fein voters was joint authority by the British and Irish Governments (36%).

Only 45% of DUP voters support the restoration of the Stormont institutions, compared to 59% of UUP voters.

LucidTalk said this was significant, perhaps showing that DUP supporters see the power their MPs now have at Westminster, and are therefore less interested in getting the Stormont institutions up and working again.

Results show that one-in-three DUP voters wants a period of direct rule, with discussions on future devolved institutions.

Only 13% of UUP voters want direct rule permanently, compared to 21% of DUP voters.

There is strong support from the Alliance, Green and Independent group of voters for the restoration of Stormont - almost 66%, or two-in-three.

However, it's noteworthy that an additional 18% support a period of direct rule with ongoing discussions to get the institutions on a "totally sound footing".

It is also noteworthy that 11% of this same group would prefer joint authority by the British and Irish Governments.

The latest polling suggests Sinn Fein's support base backs the party policy of not taking its seats at Westminster.

The results suggest that the party's voters overwhelmingly endorse the Sinn Fein leadership's position on abstentionism. Of those who took part, 87% fully support the policy, with 70% "totally agreeing" with it.

Only 5% of Sinn Fein supporters totally disagree with the policy. Seven per cent don't agree, but are not overly concerned.

In addition, Sinn Fein supporters were asked: "If the Sinn Fein leadership changed their Westminster abstention policy, would you support/accept this?"

More than 50% would either not like this policy change, or be totally against it.

Some 30% were totally opposed to such a change of policy.

The Sinn Fein voter base would be split on this issue - but overall this is a major endorsement of Sinn Fein's current policy position on this issue.

The LucidTalk poll results show that even if the Sinn Fein leadership wanted to change policy on this issue, it would be a very dangerous political move.

The online poll targeted LucidTalk's 8,827 member NI Opinion Panel from 11am 21st June to 11pm 23rd June, of which 2,883 responses were received. Results are weighted by gender and community background to reflect the demographic composition of Northern Ireland resulting in 2,080 responses being considered. All data results produced are accurate to a margin of error of +/-3.0%, at 95% confidence.

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