‘Steady rise’ in support for Irish unity (31%) while backing for Union has 'fallen dramatically' (36%) since Brexit
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New research published by Queen’s University and Ulster University on Thursday shows that there are now only four percentage points between the two positions and that a majority of people in the North now think that the Brexit vote in 2016 has made a united Ireland more likely.
The results of the ‘Political Attitudes in NI 25 Years after the Agreement’ module of the the NI Life and Times (NILT) survey were published by Queen’s academics Katy Hayward and Ben Rosher as official commemorations of the GFA have been taking place across Ireland.
"Although most respondents think the long-term policy for Northern Ireland should be to be in the UK under a devolved settlement (35 per cent), support for this has fallen dramatically since 2016, while there has been a steady rise in support for Irish unification (now 31 per cent),” the author’s state.
They go on to point out that a large plurality of people in the North now believe a united Ireland is likely to be realised by 2042 and that a majority of people believe this eventuality has been made more plausible by the decision of a majority of the population of the United Kingdom to vote to leave the European Union in the Brexit referendum of 2016.
“More people think it likely a united Ireland will exist in 20 years (45%) than believe the United Kingdom will do so (38%).
“A majority (63 per cent) believe that Brexit has made a united Ireland more likely (including a plurality of unionists), though only 38 per cent say it has made a united Ireland more desirable, with a plurality (42 per cent) still saying it has made no difference to their views,” the researchers report.
The Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) survey is carried out annually and documents public opinion on a wide range of social issues.
In 2022, 1,405 people aged 18 years or over took part. NILT is a joint project of the two universities in the North and provides ‘an independent source of information on what the public thinks’.