Northern Ireland news

Public disillusioned by Stormont administration says opinion poll

An opinion poll says levels of public trust in Michelle O'Neill and Paul Givan are low. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire

THE public is deeply disillusioned by the Stormont administration with more than two-thirds of people regarding it as dysfunctional, according to a new opinion poll.

The Ipsos Mori survey for the University of Liverpool found that only 7 per cent thought the executive performs effectively as a government.

The survey also highlights significant levels of dissatisfaction with First Minister Paul Givan and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill.

Trust in the DUP first minister was ranked as low by 63 per cent of respondents, while his Sinn Féin counterpart fared only marginally better with 54 per cent registering a low level of trust.

Of those interviewed, just 30 per cent signalled high or medium trust in Mr Givan, while 43 per cent gave a corresponding assessment of Ms O'Neill.

The smaller executive parties fared better with 80 per cent saying they had significant trust in Ulster Unionist Robin Swann.

The research, first published by the Belfast Telegraph, found the health minister is the only member of the Stormont executive to command majority trust among unionists, nationalists and the non-aligned.

More than two-thirds of respondents – 68 per cent – said they trusted Justice Minister Naomi Long, with 60 per cent giving Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon a similar rating.

Nearly two-thirds felt co-operation between ministers was poor, while a similar proportion said the assembly was failing to hold the executive to account.

The report's authors – Dr Sean Haughey and Dr Tom Loughran – said the survey illustrated that in certain circumstances, namely a pandemic, a Stormont minister could win respect and trust for their political performance beyond their traditional base.

"The fact that only 18 per cent of unionist respondents express a high level of trust in the unionist first minister, whilst a potentially concerning issue in other respects, does imply that performance is being assessed on more than communal loyalty," they said.

Elsewhere, the research, revealed that the public thinks Stormont's performance is worsening, with just 29 per cent believing devolution is as effective as in the past.

Yet more people – 42 per cent – feel power-sharing is the most appropriate form of government for Northern Ireland, though 61 per cent believe it could be improved with further reforms.

Some 37 per cent believe more power should be devolved to Stormont from Westminster while 33 per cent disagree.

Overall, unionists are more dissatisfied with the devolved institutions and elected representatives than nationalists or the non-aligned.

The polling took place between September 30 and October 6 this year, with 840 being interviewed.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access