Support for Irish unity '˜virtually unchanged after Brexit'

A new survey has indicated that little over one-fifth of Northern Irish people would back a united Ireland in a border poll '“ and that less than half of Catholics would support reunification.

Thursday, 8th September 2016, 11:00 pm
Updated Monday, 12th September 2016, 5:46 pm
The UK voted to leave the EU in Junes referendum
The UK voted to leave the EU in Junes referendum

Those are the findings of a poll carried out by the agency Ipsos Mori on behalf of the BBC, which aimed to gauge the public appetite for leaving the UK following June’s EU referendum.

Around 17% of respondents indicated that the anti-EU result of the vote had “changed their thinking” on the subject of the Province’s constitutional status. The remaining 83% said it had not.

The results of the survey were aired on the BBC One show The View last night.

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The Ipsos Mori survey had polled the views of “more than 1,000 people” in face-to-face interviews during mid-August and early September.

The results showed that 33% of those interviewed favour a border referendum, while 52% oppose the move.

If such a poll was held, 63% of respondents said they would vote to stay in the UK; meanwhile 22% would support a united Ireland.

Another 13% said they did not know, while 2% would not vote in a border poll.

While support for exiting the Union was relatively low, it is up on 2013, when Ipsos Mori last carried out such a poll on the BBC’s behalf.

At that time, the BBC said that support for staying in the UK was “estimated at 65%”. However, the corporation said this 2% decrease was “not statistically significant”.

In 2013, 17% had backed a united Ireland. This subsequent 5% increase was described by the BBC as “a significant change”.

Among the findings was that 43% of people from a Catholic background would support a united Ireland (up from 35% in 2013).

Despite suggestions from Gerry Adams for a border poll to be held after the Brexit result, the survey showed that the vast bulk – 83% – “had not altered their position” on the Union as a result of Brexit.

The findings further showed the 17% of people whose views had been influenced by Brexit were “slightly more likely to be female”, from a Catholic background, and to be affluent.

The survey also found if Scotland voted for independence, 18% said it would make them more likely to vote for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK, and 15% it would make them more likely to vote for a united Ireland.

However, the views of most would remain unchanged.