Poll: Protocol ranks as most important issue for more unionists - but health and economy still biggest concerns
THE proportion of unionists citing the Northern Ireland Protocol as the most important issue that concerns them has doubled in a matter of weeks - but the economy and health remain greater priorities, fresh data shows.
February's Institute of Irish Studies-University of Liverpool/The Irish News opinion poll showed the Irish Sea border was the key issue for 11.7 per cent of unionist respondents.
In the seven weeks since, the proportion has grown to 20.9 per cent but it remains less of a priority for unionist voters than health (25.5 per cent) and the economy (29.8 per cent).
The DUP's Paul Givan resigned as first minister in protest at the Irish Sea border at the beginning of February.
Over recent weeks, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson's party has taken part in a series of high-profile anti-protocol protests, sharing a platform with the TUV leader Jim Allister, Baroness Kate Hoey, former MEP Ben Habib and various loyalist spokesmen.
Only 2.1 per cent of nationalist respondents cited the protocol as their chief concern. They too believe health (33 per cent) and the economy (30.2 per cent) are more important.
Among those who regard themselves as neither unionist or nationalist, again the protocol barely figures as a big issue (3.6 per cent), ranked well behind health (29.7 per cent ) and the economy (35.5 per cent).
Covid recovery ranks as the fourth most important issue listed, with roughly one-in-ten of all respondents regarding it as the biggest important concern, ahead of employment, housing, education and the environment.
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