Belfast Telegraph

Two-thirds in Republic would vote for a united Ireland, survey reveals

By Brian Hutton

Two out of three people in the Irish Republic would vote for a united Ireland, a major opinion poll has found.

Pollster Red C said its latest national survey - coming just weeks after the Brexit result - shows a sharp rise in support for reunification since a similar opinion poll six years ago.

Asked how they would vote if a referendum was held tomorrow, 65% of the sample electorate said they would vote in favour of reunification.

Some 30% said they would vote against it, while 5% said they were undecided.

The findings show an 8% jump in support for a united Ireland since Red C posed the same question in a poll carried out for the Sunday Times in 2010.

The shock Brexit result last month has sparked a renewed debate about a potential referendum on the Irish border.

A majority of voters in Northern Ireland want to remain as part of the European Union, with 56% voting Remain and 44% voting Leave.

Remain campaigners, including Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, have insisted their wishes must be respected and voiced his support for a border poll.

However Leave backers, among them First Minister Arlene Foster of the DUP, have insisted the EU referendum result is a UK-wide decision.

The leader of the Republic's main Opposition party Fianna Fail, Micheal Martin, said he hoped the Brexit result would lead to a united Ireland.

However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has in recent days retreated from his earlier talk of a border referendum.

The latest Red C poll also shows Mr Martin's Fianna Fail is the most popular party in the Republic.

Arch-rivals Fine Gael rely on his support for their minority government, formed after weeks of negotiations following a huge split in the vote earlier this year.

In a cross-border survey last year by broadcasters RTE and BBC Northern Ireland, 66% of people in the Irish Republic said they would like to see a united Ireland in their lifetime.

But only 30% in Northern Ireland held the same view, with 43% saying they would not like to see reunification.

For the poll, carried out for bookmaker Paddy Power, Red C interviewed a sample of 1,000 voters in the Republic between July 25 and 27.

Support for a united Ireland was equal at 65% among both men and women. More (69%) in less well-off social groups than better-off groups (59%) said they would vote for reunification.

Voters living in Dublin (56%) were less likely to vote in favour of a united Ireland than those living outside the capital (68% to 69%).

Sinn Fein (79%) and Fianna Fail (71%) supporters were most likely to back reunification, while Fine Gael (58%) voters were least likely.

There was a clear majority in favour among all age groups, particularly among those aged 55 to 64 (70%).

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