New poll: bulk of unionists say reunification puts peace at risk

A new opinion poll indicates that an overwhelming majority of unionist/loyalist people in Northern Ireland believe peace would be in jeopardy on a re-unified island.

Sunday, 2nd May 2021, 3:10 pm
A line of police at disturbances in west Belfast last month; the poll asked if re-unification would strain peace further

The same poll found that whenever the same question was asked of nationalist/republican respondents in the Province, only a minority feared peace would be at risk.

The opinion poll involved London-based firm Kantar, and the results were published in Ireland’s Sunday Independent.

It was conducted online with 2,250 respondents, drawn from both sides of the border, and was run to co-incide with today’s centenary milestone.

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One of the specific statements people were asked to give an opinion on, was this: “I believe that the prospect of a united Ireland could jeopardise peace on the island of Ireland.”

> Looking at how unionist/loyalist respondents in Northern Ireland reacted, the results show that 65% “strongly agree” with that statement, and another 25% “somewhat agree”.

> When nationalist/republic respondents in the Province were asked the same question, the results show just 13% “strongly agree” and another 36% “somewhat agree”.

> Meanwhile 22% of respondents in the Republic of Ireland “strongly agree” and another 40% “somewhat agree” (the RoI figures are not broken down into unionist/nationalist camps).

> Asked what sort of majority would be sufficient to for a border poll result to be accepted by both sides of the community, 81% of respondents in the Republic, and 74% in Northern Ireland, believe that either a 66.6% or a 70% majority would be needed.

> In the Republic, 67% support the aspiration of a united Ireland, compared with 36% in Northern Ireland.

As Dr Graham Gudgin (economist and former aide to David Trimble) pointed out last week in The News Letter, polls run by the Belfast firm LucidTalk (which relies on a bank of volunteer respondents who answer questions online) have shown support for Irish unity in the range of about 40-48%.

By contrast he noted that the NI Life and Times Survey (which is run by NI’s two universities and which relies on randomly-selected face-to-face interviewees) – plus polling by Liverpool University – show support for Irish unity in the 19-29% range.

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