Half of voters believe rigorous implementation calls overlooked need for protocol renegotiation

HALF of voters believe that calls for the rigorous implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol underestimated its need to be renegotiated, according to the latest survey.

Unionists are most supportive of the notion that Stormont's anti-Brexit coalition failed to acknowledge the need to change aspects of the post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Around two-thirds of DUP (65.4 per cent), Ulster Unionist (65.7 per cent) and TUV (68.1 per cent) voters believe Sinn Féin, Alliance, the SDLP and Greens were too eager to see the protocol implemented in full, therefore overlooking any flaws.

In 2020, in response to plans by the then British prime minister Boris Johnson to override elements of the Brexit withdrawal deal, the pro-Remain parties wrote a joint letter to Downing Street and the EU demanding that the terms of the treaty were honoured.

The call has been regularly cast up by unionists since. Earlier this month, DUP MP Carla Lockhart called for Michelle O’Neill and Naomi Long to apologise.

"When we were trying to get a better deal for Northern Ireland, they were focused on making a bad deal worse," the Upper Bann representative said.

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According to the latest Irish News-Institute of Irish Studies-University of Liverpool survey, more than half SDLP voters (52.9 per cent) believe the calls for rigorous implementation underestimated the requirement for the protocol to be renegotiated. However, less than half Sinn Féin voters (42 per cent) and little more than a third of Alliance supporters (36.6 per cent) agree.

Dr David McCann, Ulster University lecturer and Slugger O'Toole deputy editor, said: "The DUP will take comfort from the fact that the vast bulk of unionism and a decent minority of nationalists agree that the protocol needs reformed.

"They seem to be getting the credit amongst their unionist base, however, they will have to also be mindful that there is only so far that strategy can go."

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