Northern Ireland

Majority urge DUP back into government – poll

A MAJORITY think the revised EU-UK deal on the protocol paves the way for the DUP's return to Stormont, according to the latest polling.

Almost half the supporters of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson's party (46.2 per cent) believe it should end its boycott of the institutions and get back into the executive, with only 13.8 per cent disagreeing.

The DUP withdrew from the devolved administration in February last year with the resignation of first minister Paul Givan. The party said it had concerns about the Northern Ireland Protocol, prompting protracted discussions between Brussels and London.

The fruits of those talks were unveiled last month by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The Windsor Framework has received a broad welcome from business groups, the Irish government and the US administration. However, the DUP leader has said his party has outstanding concerns about the deal, which cements the north's access to the EU single market and gives unfettered access to the UK single market.

Read More

  • Survey shows support for Windsor Framework three times greater than opposition
  • Poll reveals overwhelming cross-community support for protocol's dual market access
  • Half of voters believe rigorous implementation calls overlooked need for protocol renegotiation
  • Analysis: Poll points to potential route out of self-inflicted mess
  • Prof Peter Shirlow: Realising the achievements needs leadership

In all, 58.4 per cent of those surveyed earlier this month on behalf of the Irish News-Institute of Irish Studies-University of Liverpool, supported the proposition that the framework's publication means the DUP should re-enter the Stormont institutions.

Support for Sir Jeffrey's party enabling the restoration of power-sharing was greatest among voters of Alliance (73.4 per cent) and the Ulster Unionists (71.3 per cent).

A majority of Sinn Féin supporters (60.6 per cent) and their SDLP counterparts (59.4 per cent) also believe the revised post-Brexit trading arrangements mean the DUP should get back into government.

Majority urge DUP back into government – poll
Majority urge DUP back into government – poll

Opposition to such a move is greatest among TUV voters (50.1 per cent), although nearly one fifth of supporters of Jim Allister's party (18.8 per cent) believe the DUP should restore the institutions on foot of the Windsor Framework.

Professor Peter Shirlow, director at the Institute of Irish Studies, noted that more than two-thirds of DUP voters didn't reject the idea that the party should now return to Stormont.

"Only TUV supporters disagree more but by a margin over three times greater than DUP voters," he said.

"Interestingly, UUP and Alliance voters are more supportive than those voting Sinn Féin and SDLP – the latter probably fear further collapse, or like DUP voters want a deal done that provides long-term stability."

Prof Shirlow said the survey indicated that TUV voters "have different opinions which does not reflect the nature of the rhetoric from that party regarding the protocol".

"The survey data shows an initial welcome of the Windsor Framework, despite the devil within the generally unknown detail, but it would seem the previous hostility towards the protocol in DUP ranks has softened," he said.

"Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has a choice to make – he must now recognise that his position is bolstered via the recognition that there is inter-community recognition that the protocol was inept and had negative impacts, and that his party understood those realities while the non-unionist parties did not."

The academic said the mood among DUP voters was changing.

:: The survey was conducted between March 3-14 and has a margin of error of +/– 3.1 per cent.

Read More

  • Opinion poll: Stormont's 'big three' consolidate dominance of the assembly
  • Analysis: Big party support holds up but voters want action from restored executive
  • Cost of living and NHS reform identified as major priorities for restored Stormont
  • Majority support for Good Friday Agreement structures among voters
  • Dr David McCann – The three-party state is here to stay
  • Dr Sean Haughey – We need to talk about restoring and reforming devolution