Sunday 16 June 2019

Surge in support for united Ireland following Brexit vote - poll finds

  • Poll shows over a quarter of people have changed their mind since vote
  • Support for unification most popular among younger voters
  • Majority in Belfast support united Ireland
File Photo - Traffic sign on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland
File Photo - Traffic sign on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland

Brexit has caused a huge surge in support for a united Ireland amongst the population of Northern Ireland, according to new research.

A poll commissioned by the BBC found that a referendum or “border poll” on whether to leave the UK would now be a close-run result, with undecided voters having the casting vote.

Over a quarter of people in the six counties say they have changed their mind since the Brexit vote and now support a united Ireland – bringing polling for a referendum to 45 per cent staying in the UK and 42 per cent leaving it, with 13 percent undecided.

28 per cent say Brexit has made them more likely to support a united Ireland, 27 per cent say they were already likely to support a united Ireland before Brexit, and 40.6 percent say they still support union with the UK. less than 1 percent of those polled say Brexit has made them less likely support a united Ireland.

Support for the cause is more popular amongst the younger generation than the old, with 49.4 percent of under-45s backing a break with the UK compared to 37.7 who want to stay in it.

Though Catholics are significantly more likely to support joining the Republic than Protestants, a minority of the latter, 8.5 per cent, say they support leaving the UK. An overall majority in Belfast, 50.2 percent, support a United Ireland.

Northern Ireland has become the focus of Brexit talks because it is set to become the only future land border between the EU and UK. But under the Good Friday Agreement which brought an end to the Troubles, there cannot be a hard border between NI and the Republic.

Though the Government and EU both say they are committed to avoiding a hard border, leaked tapes released on Thursday show Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it was “just beyond belief” that the issue was being taken so seriously and that such focusing on such a “small” item amounted to “allowing the tail to wag the dog”.

The poll also found that 81.3 percent of the NI population do not believe that politicians reflect concerns of the people in the six counties well, while just 17.1 percent did.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on Friday morning that a border poll would be “divisive” and “a bad idea”.

Mr Varadkar, who is currently visiting Northern Ireland, told the Good Morning Ulster programme: “We should be respecting the primacy of the Good Friday Agreement and, at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement, is power-sharing within Northern Ireland, ever-increasing cooperation within the north and south and peace in Britain and Ireland.

Independent News Service

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