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Poll: Opinions on Protocol sharply divided, but level of distrust in DUP will concern new leader 


Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s party is the one most distrusted by people on the issue

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s party is the one most distrusted by people on the issue

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s party is the one most distrusted by people on the issue

Eight out of 10 voters here don’t trust the DUP on the Northern Ireland Protocol, according to a new LucidTalk opinion poll.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s party is the one most distrusted by people on the issue, with six out of 10 saying the same about Sinn Fein.

Alliance, SDLP and the Ulster Unionists are not trusted on the Protocol by around four in 10 people. Notably, three in 10 are still making up their minds on whether or not they trust the UUP on the topic.

Trust in the parties over the Protocol is important because of the democratic consent vote MLAs will have in 2024. The Assembly will decide on the continued application of Articles 5-10 of the Protocol — those relating mostly to the movement of goods.

The poll, conducted for a research team at Queen’s University Belfast, found that voters are evenly split on the Brexit trading arrangement.

Although public concern is considerable, the protests and debate on the Protocol since April haven’t led to any significant growth in opposition to it.

The researchers said this suggests positions on the issue are “already quite entrenched”. Two-thirds of people believe Northern Ireland needs ‘particular arrangements’ for managing the impact of Brexit, but they are divided on the Irish Sea border.

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When asked whether it is appropriate for Northern Ireland, 47% agree, but the same percentage disagree. Similarly, 43% think the Protocol is, on balance, good for Northern Ireland, whereas 48% don’t.

However, some 56% believe the Protocol provides Northern Ireland with a unique set of post-Brexit economic opportunities.

More people are concerned about the cost of certain products (69%) than the choice of products for consumers (61%), or the existence of checks and controls on goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain (58%).

A majority (57%) say that they would like to see the UK agreeing to regulatory alignment with the EU to address this.

Nearly four in 10 say that they would like to see such checks and controls moved from ports and airports in Northern Ireland to the Irish land border.

People are determined to use their vote in next May’s Assembly election to support MLAs who share their view on the Protocol: three-quarters said a candidate’s position on the issue would be relevant when choosing who to back.

The poll involved a weighted sample of 1,500 respondents for the ESRC-funded research project entitled Governance for 'a place between’: the Multilevel Dynamics of Implementing the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Co-investigator on the project, Professor Katy Hayward, said: “People in Northern Ireland are highly exercised by the Protocol, both for and against — and in equal proportions.

“The political tensions are compounded by the low levels of trust in the political parties when it comes to the Protocol, and by the fact that the Protocol is likely to feature heavily in the next Assembly election.”

Almost three-quarters of people are concerned or very concerned about Northern Ireland’s voice being heard on the implementation of the Protocol. Just 5% trust the Government, while 40% trust the European Commission.

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