Northern Ireland news

Border poll: More than half of north 'does not want vote'

An abandoned guard hut at the Irish border. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association

MORE than half of people in Northern Ireland do not want a border poll, according to a new survey.

Following June's European Union referendum vote, Sinn Féin had suggested the Secretary of State should call a border poll under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Although the UK voted to leave the EU, a majority of people in the north - around 56 per cent - opted to stay. The vote raised questions about the north's future with the Republic's Department of Foreign Affairs reporting an upsurge in applications for Irish passports.

However the poll carried out for BBC Northern Ireland's The View found that around 52 per cent of people surveyed do not want a border poll and 83 per cent said Brexit had not altered their position on the north's status.

People from a Catholic background were more likely to support calls for a border poll.

Around 53 per cent of Catholics interviewed backed such a poll, while 72 per cent of Protestants were opposed to the move.

If a poll were to be held, the survey found it would be unlikely to change the north's political status.

Of more than a thousand people interviewed, 63 per cent said they would vote for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK.

Around 22 per cent of those polled said they would support a United Ireland. However this represented a significant five per cent rise on a 2013 survey. The survey showed support for a United Ireland had grown amongst people from a Catholic background, with 43 per cent saying they would back Irish unity - eight per cent higher than 2013's figure.

The poll by Ipsos Mori took place at locations across the north between mid August and early this month.

It found that the result of the EU referendum had not changed most people's views on the north's constitutional future.

Of those surveyed, only 17 per cent said the UK's decision to leave the EU had changed their stance on the north.

The poll came as Secretary of State James Brokenshire planned to meet US government officials yesterday to update them on the British government's priorities for the north.

He was expected to discuss any progress since last November's Fresh Start agreement, as well as the potential impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland.

He was also due to meet business leaders to promote investment.

Ahead of the visit, Mr Brokenshire said he would tell the US that Northern Ireland is "open for business".

"The UK has voted to leave the European Union and we are determined to build on our strengths as an open, dynamic, trading nation to forge a new global role," he said.

"The enduring friendship and close economic ties between the United Kingdom and the United States is a solid platform for Northern Ireland firms wanting to do business here."

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