Almost half of people in Northern Ireland would like British or Irish political parties to contest elections here.
When asked whether parties like the Conservatives, Labour, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael should fight elections here all 1,267 people surveyed gave an opinion.
Just 40% said that only our own local parties should be on the ballot paper while 27% thought all named parties should stand, and an additional 16% wanted UK parties only, giving a total figure of 43% in favour.
For Irish parties the overall figure was marginally higher at 44%.
This will be encouraging news for activists from the Conservative Party, British and Irish Labour and Fianna Fail who all recruit members here but, with the exception of the Tories, are forbidden to contest elections. Following their breach with the UUP, the Conservatives will launch a new regional party on Thursday.
The British Labour Party’s National Executive is currently reviewing its long standing ban on contesting elections in Northern Ireland. It has about 350 signed-up members here and is at present consulting both the SDLP and Irish Labour on how to proceed.
There are several Northern Ireland branches of Fianna Fail and it claims 250 members in Antrim alone. However the party centrally is battling to recover from a meltdown of support in the last year’s Dail election and has so far refused to risk opening a second front north of the border.
The poll did not ask those surveyed whether they wanted to actually vote for a British or Irish party.
Support for outside parties standing is lowest amongst the 18-24 age group (with 52% opposed) and highest amongst people over 45 (35% opposed).
There was little difference between Catholics (42% opposed) and Protestants (49% opposed).
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