Belfast Telegraph

Support for united Ireland referendum crosses the political divide

By Liam Clarke

Most people who express an opinion want to see a referendum on Irish unity.

This is the first time that we have asked this question so we can't be sure whether it is rising but it could be boosted by a Scottish effect. Opinion was sampled around the time of the Scots referendum with half taken before the result and half after.

The question was: "Scotland has been given a referendum on whether to stay in the UK or not. Do you think Northern Ireland should hold a referendum on whether to stay in the UK or join with the Irish Republic?"

With don't knows (DKs) excluded over half the sample (56.2%) said they wanted a referendum and 43.8% didn't. When DKs were included just under half (47%) of respondents wanted a referendum while 36.3% were opposed and 16.3% expressing no opinion.

The 16.3% no response figure was fairly low. 81% of Catholics wanted a border poll to be held and their view was shared by nearly one in four Protestants (24%).

Some pro-Union people wanted a referendum to settle the question once and for all.

"Bring it on – let's show SF that the vast number of NI people want to be British," said one Protestant who wanted a chance to vote against Irish unity.

Support for a border poll was highest among the young. The idea was supported by a comfortable majority of both 18-24-year-olds (58%) and those in the 25-44 age bracket (55.4%), even including DKs. This may reflect the fact that the majority of the population under 40 is now Catholic, but support was still considerable among older age groups.

Women (38.9%) were considerably less supportive of a referendum than men (55.9%). Some 17.2% of women were undecided compared to 15.2% of men.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph