Poll finds slight lead for Union over a united Ireland

Polling station. Photo credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Polling station. Photo credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

A new poll has found a slightly higher number of people in Northern Ireland would vote to remain in the UK in any potential referendum on the border.

The survey, conducted by polling firm Lucid Talk for the BBC, found 45% would vote in favour of staying in the UK. This suggests any potential referendum on the border would be a close run affair, with 42.1% in favour of leaving the UK to join the Republic of Ireland.

A further 12.7% said they were undecided, while 0.2% said they either wouldn’t vote at all or would spoil their ballot.

On identity, the poll also found 47% of people in Northern Ireland identified themselves as strongly British, the BBC report. This compares to 58.6% who identified themselves strongly as Irish, 57.9% as Northern Irish, and 56.7% as European.

Only 4% of those with a Catholic background identified as British, compared to over 90% who identified as Irish.

The survey also suggests the UK’s decision to leave the EU has had a significant impact on how people might vote in such a border poll.

28% of survey respondents said they “used to support Northern Ireland staying in the UK” but would or may now “support Northern Ireland joining the Republic of Ireland.”

Less than one percent (0.85%) said they used to support joining the Republic of Ireland but now support staying in the UK.

The BBC report that Lucid Talk was in contact with a representative sample of 1,336 people across Northern Ireland either online or by telephone.

The research was conducted in May.

The survey findings differ significantly from a poll carried out by Ipsos Mori, also for the BBC, whose findings were published last month.

That poll found that of those who would vote and expressed a preference just over 20% would vote for a united Ireland, compared to almost 80% in favour of the union.