University: Explore points of consensus over Irish border
The report said that overall the survey results ‘suggest that the key to the border issue will be in its operation’.
Elements of agreement between unionists and nationalists over the Irish border should be further explored, researchers have suggested.
Opinion may be more nuanced than previously allowed for, if accompanied by significant levels of extra funding and shared British and Irish control, the University of Kent study added.
Conventional wisdom suggests nationalists would be more concerned about the impact of a land border with the Republic and unionists with one dividing them from the rest of the UK.
The report said: “Overall these survey results suggest that the key to the border issue will be in its operation and the extent to which that can be kept as unobtrusive as possible.
“It also suggests that there are points of consensus in Northern Ireland across the unionist/nationalist spectrum that could be more fully explored.”
It said there were clear implications in the survey for the Republic and Northern Ireland.
“Depending on how a border frontier is operated – and if accompanied by significant levels of compensation and shared British/Irish control – nationalist and unionist opinion may be more nuanced and contingent on how a border is operated, than politicians have so far allowed for.
“A second implication is that while to the nationalist and unionist communities the most important issue is the location of the border, this does not rule out finding a compromise on the location of the border.
“Thus economic and social dimensions of the border (the costs and any physical barriers interfering with mobility) can compensate losses on the principles of territorial sovereignty normally associated with the role of borders in separating one legal jurisdiction from another.”