Northern Ireland news

New survey: If border poll held today, majority of people in NI would vote to stay in UK

One of the recent polls looked at issues related to the NI Protocol. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

IF a border poll was held today, the majority of people in Northern Ireland would vote to stay in the UK, according to a new survey.

But research suggests just over half of respondents believe the north will have left the UK in 25 years time.

The findings are part of a specially commissioned opinion poll for last night's BBC NI programme Spotlight - A Contested Centenary, in which people on both sides of the border had their say on Northern Ireland’s future.

The survey, carried out by polling firms Ireland Thinks and LucidTalk, asked people how they would vote if a border poll was held today to decide if the north should stay in the UK.

The poll found 49 per cent would vote for it to remain in the UK, while 43 per cent would vote to leave and join a united Ireland.

In the Republic, 51 per cent said they would vote for Northern Ireland to join them in a United Ireland, with 27 per cent against.

The BBC said the survey "suggests if a border poll was held today, it wouldn't lead to a change".

It found 55 per cent of people in the north believe it will still be part of the UK in 10 years time, but 51 per cent think it will have left in 25 years.

In the Republic, 59 per cent also thought Northern Ireland's status would not have changed in a decade, but 54 per cent believe it will leave in 25 years time.

Forty per cent of people also agreed that the Northern Ireland centenary was an achievement that should be celebrated, while 45 per cent disagreed.

Respondents were also asked if the partition of Ireland was a 'negative development which should be regretted', with 48 per cent agreeing and 41 per cent disagreeing.

Meanwhile, another opinion poll has found there are wide concerns and polarised views about the political impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The survey by LucidTalk for Queen’s University also reveals "low levels of trust" in the people managing the north's interests in relation to the protocol, while the greatest cause for concern among respondents is the political stability of Northern Ireland.

The poll is part of a three-year funded research project, 'Governance for 'a place between’: the Multilevel Dynamics of Implementing the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland'.

Regular surveys from LucidTalk will ‘temperature test’ voter attitudes on issues relating to Brexit, the Protocol and their implications for Northern Ireland.

While 57 per cent of respondents do not think that Brexit is ‘a good thing’ for the UK as whole, views are evenly split over whether it is 'overall good' for the north.

The poll found 65 per cent of participants agreed particular arrangements for Northern Ireland are necessary to manage Brexit, but many expressed concerns about the current impact of Brexit and the Protocol.

Even though the survey was conducted prior to the recent disorder, the greatest cause for concern among all respondents is the political stability of the north.

The poll reveals strongly held concerns about Northern Ireland’s place in relation to Great Britain, including the extent of the increased formalities, checks and controls on trade with 57 per cent stating they would like to see the UK agreeing to regulatory alignment with the EU to address this.

At the end of 2024, the NI Assembly will vote on the continued application of Articles 5-10 of the Protocol, relating mostly to the movement of goods.

When asked about how they would like elected representatives to vote, 47 per cent were in favour and 42 per cent against.

Professor David Phinnemore, principal investigator of the project, said the poll shows the Protocol is a "live and contested issue among voters as well as political parties in Northern Ireland".

"The political debate in Northern Ireland in the lead-up to the Assembly elections in May next year could very well centre upon the Protocol.

"The results of this poll suggest that the debate would be both impassioned and polarised."

The survey also found just five per cent of respondents trust the UK government with managing the effects of the Protocol in Northern Ireland, 15 per cent trust the NI Executive,19 per cent for the UK-EU Joint Committee, but 62 per cent have faith in business representatives.

Co-investigator, Professor Katy Hayward said: "Only seven per cent of those polled strongly agree that reliable information on the Protocol is available.

"As long as there is a lack of detail and clarity surrounding the final shape of the Protocol, anxiety about its longer-term impact will inevitably grow.

"When you add this to people’s lack of trust in institutions, politicians and officials on this issue, we can see why the sense of uncertainty in Northern Ireland at the moment is quite so acute."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news