Northern Ireland

New poll reveals voters’ doubts over chances of Stormont surviving to end of current mandate

QUB poll also found majority want to ‘move on’ from NI Protocol and Brexit debate

Overhead view of the chamber of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Parliament Buildings, Stormont as MLAs met last Saturday.
The chamber of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Parliament Buildings, Stormont. PICTURE: LIAM McBURNEY/PA WIRE (Liam McBurney/Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

Only one-third of voters believe that the restored Stormont Assembly will last until the end of its current mandate, a new poll has revealed.

Those who identify as “strongly nationalist” have the most faith in the Assembly surviving, with moderate “neutrals” being the most cynical, the findings from a report published by Queen’s University show.

The poll, carried out by LucidTalk just days after the DUP accepted the British government’s deal to revive the power-sharing institutions, found 73% of respondents agreed that the DUP was right to return to Stormont. This included almost half (47%) of DUP voters.

Secretary of Chris Heaton-Harris holds the Safeguarding the Union document at Hillsborough Castle
Secretary of Chris Heaton-Harris with the Safeguarding the Union command paper that prompted the DUP to return to Stormont. PICTURE: NIALL CARSON (Niall Carson/Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Overall, 33% believe the Assembly will survive to the end of its current mandate, with 31% believing it will not, and 36% saying they aren’t sure.

Strong nationalists (39%) and strong unionists (37%) believe it will last, compared to only 23% of neutrals.

Out of DUP voters, 75% believed the ‘Safeguarding the Union’ deal on removing Irish Sea border restrictions and restoring Stormont was worth deferring power-sharing for almost two years.

The poll, which used a weighted sample of 1,202 people, also found that 62% of voters want politics in the north to “move on” from the debate around Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol, but over half (52%) of those who are strongly unionist want to keep the Protocol as a key focus.

QUB’s Professor David Phinnemore said: “For most voters in Northern Ireland, there are far more important issues to be addressed than any lingering concerns they might have about the Protocol/Windsor Framework. Most voters want political debate to move on and for MLAs to vote for the continuation of the Protocol/Windsor Framework later this year.

Co-Investigator, Professor Katy Hayward, said the DUP’s Protocol deal has “clearly not removed opposition to it from among strong unionists”

“We can expect to see the ramifications of that in practice. For example, three quarters of strong unionists, 78%, want to see the Stormont Brake exercised by MLAs, compared to 4% of nationalists and others. The test for the stability of the Assembly will be on how such mechanisms are used and responded to.”