Majority in North now back immediate reunification

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The latest poll results in the Six Counties point to a sharp decline in support for unionism and the emergence of a clear majority in favour of Irish reunification.

According to a question posed by the Institute of Irish Studies af the University of Liverpool, 52.2% of respondents who expressed a preference would vote for a United Ireland “tomorrow”.

The majority for reunification increases to a 56.8% ‘Yes’ for a united Ireland in 10-15 years time.

The results of the poll confirm the historic shift which took place in the May Assembly election, when parties which support a united Ireland won more votes than those which support the union.

The poll also comes in the wake of public anger over the DUP’s decision to collapse the North’s political institutions as a protest over the Brexit Protocol, although all of the unionist parties have suffered a decline.

Support for the DUP dropped from 21.3% in the May Assembly election to 20.1%. There was a drop from 11.2% to 9.6% for the UUP and the biggest decline was for the hardline unionist TUV, from 7.6% to 4.7%.

Support for the nationalist parties has increased meanwhile, with Sinn Féin up from 29.0% to 30.9% and the SDLP up from 9.0% to 10.0%. The Alliance Party has also increased from 14.9% to 15.3%.

One of the unusual features of the survey was the level of support it found for Irish reunification among supporters of unionist parties, with almost one in five saying they would vote for a united Ireland in 10-15 years time.

Professor Shirlow said he believed support for Irish unity is clearly on the rise.

“After several years of doing these surveys, it is clear there is growth in support for unification, which is primarily due to demographic change, Brexit and the failure to form an executive,” he said.

Support for Irish reunification increased further if certain political and economic targets were offered, such as an improved heath service, a lower cost of living, better cross-border relationships and more secure employment.

Professor Shirlow noted that “in reality, and on many issues, unionist and republican voters agree on much” but without political effect.

The pollster also noted that the two parties which did best in May, Sinn Féin and Alliance, are still growing in terms of support.

“The lesson from May is that pro-union voters are not simply going to vote to keep the other side out,” he said.

“Sections within that community want a leadership for the 21st century that involves socially liberal values, delivery of better public services and more thoughtful ways to resolve the Protocol.”

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