Nationalists almost twice as likely as unionists to say Covid-19 response 'too slow'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has scored highest in a survey in Northern Ireland of how political leaders are handling the coronavirus pandemic. Picture by Nick Bradshaw
Paul Ainsworth

A poll on the British government and Stormont's response to the coronavirus crisis has found that nationalists are almost twice as likely as unionists to believe action has been "too slow".

LucidTalk's Covid-19 Emergency survey asked more than 2,100 people in Northern Ireland for their thoughts on how the Executive and Whitehall have handled the outbreak.

Asked if government responded "too slowly, too quickly, or at just the right level and timing", 88 percent of those identifying as nationalist or republican said it was slow and that authorities had "under-reacted", compared to just 45 percent of unionists/loyalists.

Almost half of unionists felt the response has been "just right", compared to just four per cent of nationalists.

Overall, out of all those who participated in the poll across all community backgrounds, two-thirds said the response was too slow, while less than a quarter felt it was appropriate.

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Four per cent felt the government reacted "too quickly" and five per cent answered "don't know".

Of all Northern Ireland respondents, 91 per cent agreed with tougher British government measures last week to ensure most people stay at home.

This broke down into 93 per cent of unionists and 87 per cent of nationalists.

Meanwhile, when asked to rate the response of political leaders to the crisis, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar polled the highest at 67 per cent, followed by Stormont health minister Robin Swann at 61.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill of Sinn Féin scored 49 per cent, two per cent ahead of DUP First Minister Arlene Foster, while prime minister Boris Johnson scored 44 per cent.

One respondent described the overall government response as "too little, too late", while another wrote: "They are unclear and not strict enough. It should be a complete shutdown."

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