Northern Ireland news

Republic's voters don't regard Irish unity as a major election issue

A united Ireland isn't a major issue for voters in the Republic. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

CLIMATE change and the environment outranks Irish unity as a priority for voters in the Republic, according to research carried out in the run-up to polling today.

While north of the border there's an apparent growing appetite for reunification triggered by the UK's departure from the EU, Brexit and Irish unity are not key concerns among the southern electorate.

As expected health and housing are the major issues, alongside education and the economy but Irish culture and identity barely figures.

Voters in the Republic go to the polls today to elect representatives to the 33rd Dáil. Recent weeks have witnessed a surge in support for Sinn Féin, which is marginally ahead of Fianna Fáil in the opinion polls, while Fine Gael is performing poorly.

A survey of 1170 people conducted between January 31 and February 3 by Belfast-based LucidTalk and Dublin counterpart IrelandThinks ranks the health service as the most important issue with a score of 81 points out of a possible 100. Voters regard housing/rents/mortgages as the second most important with a score of 67 points.

Irish unity scores only 11 points falling to seven points among Fine Gael voters and rising to 24 points among those minded to back Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin voters appear unconcerned by Brexit which scores three points among the party's supporters and 11 points among all those surveyed.

Climate change and the environment scores 32 points among all those surveyed, while the economy scores 45.

Sinn Féin voters give climate change and the environment 23 points, while the issue scores highest among Fianna Fáil voters with 34 points.

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