Belfast Telegraph

Poll: Northern Ireland voters will back united Ireland after Brexit

The potential of a hard border with the Republic is influencing people’s feelings about Brexit
The potential of a hard border with the Republic is influencing people’s feelings about Brexit
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Voters in Northern Ireland will back a united Ireland after Brexit, a new poll suggests.

The independent poll of 1,199 people was commissioned by the campaign group Our Future Our Choice Northern Ireland (OFOCNI), which is calling for a People's Vote on the Government's final Brexit deal.

The group also claims the poll reveals widespread dissatisfaction at how the DUP is handling Brexit and calls for Sinn Fein to back a Belfast City Council vote tonight in favour of a People's Vote.

Over half (52%) said they would vote for a united Ireland after Brexit, with 39% wishing to stay part of the UK.

In the event of Brexit with a hard border, 56% favoured a united Ireland, with 40% choosing to stay in the UK.

Should the UK somehow remain in the EU, the poll found that more than half (52%) would want to stay in the UK, with just 35% supporting a united Ireland.

Only around three quarters (73%) of those from a nationalist background said they would support a united Ireland if Brexit was avoided - compared to 94% wanting to leave the UK after Brexit.

Some 59% of those who didn't consider themselves unionist or nationalist supported a united Ireland after Brexit, but this dropped to 23% if Brexit was avoided.

OFOCNI spokesperson Doire Finn (23) said: "These results confirm what everybody already knows in their heart - that if we leave the EU, people will vote for a United Ireland.

"Arlene Foster and the DUP's stance on Brexit has advanced the nationalist cause further than 40 years of IRA violence ever managed. But her supporters have a chance to defend unionism by calling for the DUP leadership to support a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal."

DUP MLA Simon Hamilton hit back, saying the remarks relating to the PIRA campaign were "an insult to the innocent victims".

"To make such a calculated comment about Arlene Foster, who witnessed her father being shot and her school bus bombed, is quite disgraceful and in poor taste," he said. "The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU.

"The DUP is working to ensure that democratic vote is respected and honoured.

"We want to see the best deal for Northern Ireland which also works for the EU and our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland.

"That is what we are working to deliver.

"The fact that the findings of this poll are so fundamentally different from other recent polls, which showed significant support for Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom, casts some doubts on the methodology."

A total of 68% of those questioned said the DUP was representing people "very badly" over Brexit, with 79% of under 24-year-olds saying the same thing.

No region in Northern Ireland had less than 59% saying "very badly".

Even a quarter of DUP voters (24%) thought the party was doing "badly" on Brexit.

Tonight's motion at Belfast City Council on a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal follows similar moves in cities around the UK.

OFOCNI's Tara Connolly (20) said it's likely to fail without the support of Sinn Fein councillors.

"Sinn Fein say they don't support Theresa May's Brexit plans, but their lack of support for this motion would be a ruthless act of political opportunism, instead of siding with the people of Northern Ireland to have their say on the government's proposed Brexit deal," she said.

Alliance councillor Kate Nicholl called Brexit "a huge act of self-harm for the UK, with significant damage facing Northern Ireland".

She added: "Belfast now has the opportunity to join with many councils across the UK in passing a resolution in favour of the People's Vote."

Sinn Fein did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Belfast Telegraph


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