Friday 21 July 2017

Almost half of us would reject united Ireland: poll

JEROME REILLY AS the IRA prepares to complete decommissioning of its arsenal, possibly by the middle of this week, a Sunday Independent poll has found that 45 per cent of the Irish electorate would not vote for a united Ireland.

According to the poll, 55 per cent of the respondents would, given recent developments in the peace process, be open to a united Ireland.

Most cited patriotism, family ties to the North, or a belief that most of the divisive issues have now been settled, for reasons to favour unification.

But as rioting continued in Belfast on Friday night and tensions remained high, many voters in the South are less than enthusiastic about a 32-county Republic.

Of the 55 per cent who said they would vote for a united Ireland, one out of every two said they would not be prepared to pay for the costs of reuniting the island through an unconditional tax hike.

Other respondents in favour of a united Ireland were wary of unspecified increases in taxation without other tangible economic benefits, over and above a united Ireland.

For 45 per cent of respondents a united Ireland held no interest. Many described the concept as out of date and that the Republic's focus should be on a European rather than a narrow nationalistic level. Others said that pursuing a 32-county republic would be regressive not progressive.

Recent criminal activity, including the murder of Robert McCartney and the continuing intimidation of his family and friends, also worried many respondents.

"Really, the paramilitaries have been proven to be criminals. I would not want to invite that lawlessness and level of organisation to the South," one female respondent said.

Another female voter said: "The identity of the South is not linked to the North anymore. We are about economic growth, house prices and Europe. The north is stigmatized by violence and hate."

Yesterday it was reported that two potential overseas investors had postponed trips to Belfast because of the recent loyalist riots.

The disclosure came as the tourist industry warned of widespread cancellations in hotels. Conference organisers have also expressed concern about going to the North.

Meanwhile, a north Belfast man who allegedly threw a pipe bomb and shot at security forces during rioting last Saturday has been remanded in custody.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard that John Main, 35, of Highfield Drive, was allegedly recorded on video throwing a bomb at police on West Circular Road.

It is claimed he was seen coming from a house to shoot at police and soldiers. He denies charges of attempting to murder security force members, riotous assembly and having a bomb and gun.

A detective sergeant told the court that the evidence against the man was "primarily video evidence".

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