| 16.7°C Belfast

Centenary poll: 44% in Northern Ireland want referendum but would not accept higher taxes to fund reunification


Close

A majority in Northern Ireland also fear a united Ireland would hit them in the pocket. Over half (55%) felt they would be worse off with just one in six (16%) believing they would prosper. (Ben Birchall/PA)

A majority in Northern Ireland also fear a united Ireland would hit them in the pocket. Over half (55%) felt they would be worse off with just one in six (16%) believing they would prosper. (Ben Birchall/PA)

PA

A majority in Northern Ireland also fear a united Ireland would hit them in the pocket. Over half (55%) felt they would be worse off with just one in six (16%) believing they would prosper. (Ben Birchall/PA)

People on both sides of the border are not prepared to foot the bill for a united Ireland, with most in Northern Ireland also fearing it would hit them in the pocket, a Belfast Telegraph poll reveals.

A clear majority in Northern Ireland and also the Republic would not accept higher taxes to fund reunification.

And only one in eight in the Republic would be prepared to fully subsidise Northern Ireland - with a third opposed outright to any form of subsidy.

In Northern Ireland, just one in six believe they would not be worse off financially in a united Ireland. In a sign that health, as well as wealth, is a key issue, almost two-thirds of Northern Ireland people would be uncomfortable transferring to the Republic's health system.

The findings emerge in a Belfast Telegraph poll, run in conjunction with Kantar.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

It comes as Northern Ireland marks its centenary and at a time of significant constitutional uncertainty, with nationalists stepping up calls for a border poll.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald used her Easter message to call on the British and Irish governments to prepare for a unity referendum.

However, former UUP leader Lord Empey last week dismissed "fanciful talk" of a united Ireland.

A recent BBC poll found a majority - north and south - think Northern Ireland will have left the UK within 25 years. Our survey canvasses opinion on both sides of the border on a range of key issues.

On the issue of whether a border poll should be held, support is higher than opposition in Northern Ireland. Here, 44% want a border poll with 39% opposed and 17% unsure.

In the Republic, 65% want a vote on removing the border, with 19% against and 17% unsure. Support is high among younger voters - 71% of those in the 24-35 age bracket want a poll.

Among those who favour a border poll here, almost three quarters (72%) want to see it held by 2026 - of this, 28% want it now; with a further 44% calling for it within five years.

In the Republic, 19% of those wanting a referendum want it held now and another 50% say it should come within five years.

Voters were also asked if they wanted a united Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, opinion was split, with 35% in favour. Of this, just under a fifth (19%) were strongly in favour. Even among those identifying as nationalist/republican here, just three in four opt for a united Ireland. Some 43% were against - 35% strongly disagreed.

In the Republic, views are more clear-cut - 67% want a united Ireland, with just one in six (16%) against. Of the 16% against, 8% are strongly against.

People were asked if a united Ireland would happen in their lifetime. Some 39% in Northern Ireland believe it will, with 37% disagreeing. Here, there are interesting shifts, with more believing unity will come in their lifetime than want it to happen (39% v 37%) - suggesting a wobble in unionist confidence.

In the Republic, 46% believe they will live to see unification, with 31% disagreeing.

However, support for a united Ireland comes at a cost - literally, with the survey suggesting many are unwilling to pay for it.

Northern Ireland is subsidised to the tune of almost £10bn annually from Westminster. Last year the Executive received an extra £1bn to support the political agreement that restored Stormont, while the Treasury has also footed the bill for Covid-19 support such as the furlough scheme.

Just one in eight (12%) in the Republic said the Irish Government should match the £10bn London subsidy. Another 37% indicated they would be prepared to pay some - but not all - of the subsidy. However, 34% said they would not stump up the cash, with opposition highest among older people.

Those surveyed were also asked would they accept paying more tax to fund unity. In Northern Ireland, 64% said no with just 17% indicating yes.

In the Republic, 54% are against paying more taxes for unity. Just over a fifth (22%) would accept higher taxes.

A majority in Northern Ireland also fear a united Ireland would hit them in the pocket. Over half (55%) felt they would be worse off with just one in six (16%) believing they would prosper.

In the Republic, 39% believe they would be worse off, with 43% unsure. Less than a fifth (19%) expected to be better off.

The poll also shows a fear in Northern Ireland of losing the NHS. Asked about transferring to the Republic's health service, almost two-thirds (61%) said they would be uncomfortable.

Just 41% of nationalists/republicans here said they would be comfortable transferring, with 87% of unionists/loyalists uncomfortable.

The poll was commissioned in conjunction with the Sunday Life, Irish Independent and Sunday Independent.


Top Videos



Privacy