1916-2016, is 16% likely to become 51% in less than 5 years?

The most recent results of the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey are out, showing once again support for a United Ireland at less than one in six people with almost three out of four wishing to stay within the Union, all the facts and figures of the survey are shown on their website, and if you are going to state the survey is in anyway unbalanced please provide evidence.

Note. on another site the discrepancy between the party “support” and actual votes received was used as an indicator of its unreliability, will include both the survey and council results here for a simple comparison DUP 18-27, SF 11-25, UUP 16-15, SDLP 17-15, AP 10-7, Other 3-10,  the “non supporters” were 21%.

  • Lionel Hutz


    Thats one aspect of this survey that i dont get.

    Only 16% may see the long term future as United Ireland, but 33% would not like it if a United Ireland never happened.

    And here is the difference. Its the difference between saying what you want to see and what you think is practical. Many Nationalist want a United Ireland but have bought into the notion that we couldnt afford it.

    Thats why Sinn Fein and SDLP need to start making a coherent economic argument

  • Obelisk

    Here’s a coherent economic argument.

    Right now we form a parasite statelet leeching off the success and wealth of other nations whether it is by subvention, peace fund or whatever.

    So we need to balance our own books and reform our own economy. This is in our short term interest.

    As our economy (hopefully) improves and we start paying our way, we become less of a burdern not only to the UK treasuery, but become increasingly affordable to the South.

    So the way towards making unity work is to make the north work. As for convincing people of the merits of unity…I truly believe that for the next few years that debate is out of our hands.

    The future of the Union will be decided in the Scottish Referendum. If Scotland opts to secede it will fundamentally reshape the Union and probably reshape the terms of the debate here.

    It’s one thing to argue about the merits of remaining part of a Union of four different nations. It’s quite another to be an appendage of Greater England, especially an England increasingly resentful of subsidising ungrateful celts whom they don’t understand.

  • augustiner hell

    having only had a brief look at the survey I would interpret the first line of that particular question you linked to “If response to NIRELAND2 is not ‘To remain part of the United Kingdom’…” as meaning the actual question is directed only at the 28% who responded to NIRELAND2 negatively.

  • quality

    The fact that only 11% of respondants identify themselves as Sinn Féin voters, compared to SDLP standing at 17%, should cast doubt on much of the UI stats?

  • Lionel Hutz

    having only had a brief look at the survey I would interpret the first line of that particular question you linked to “If response to NIRELAND2 is not ‘To remain part of the United Kingdom’…” as meaning the actual question is directed only at the 28% who responded to NIRELAND2 negatively.


    see what you mean. Fair enough. didn’t look at that one properly

  • Lionel Hutz

    But, as we will find out when Scotland starts answering these questions, they way you phrase it will affect the outcome.

    “Do you think the long-term policy for Northern Ireland should be for it……….”

    Its a strange question for a constitutional nationalist to answer. Should Northern Ireland have a long-term policy? Surely its best to have a policy of using the Assembly Structures for the foresseable future

  • Tochais Síoraí

    The big difference outlined by Lionel H between those who see a UI in the long term and those who will be disappointed if it doesn’t happen?

    I want to go to the rugby World Cup in NZ later in the year & I’ll be (a bit) disappointed if it doesn’t happen. However if I go, my wife will not be a happy camper and there may be consequences so I’ll probably stay at home.

    If a UI were to come about, unionists won’t like it and there may be consequences, even bloodier than what I might face with my proposed trip, so like me many nationalists opt for the status quo in these surveys even tho it’s not what they want.

  • JR

    Obviously a UI won’t happen by 2016, my prediction has always been in and arround the 2030’s. That survey is interesting though Very few identify as being either Unionst of Nationalist. Less than 1500 people surveyed though. As you all know even if 20 different locations were chosen thet still wouldn’t be enough to produce a fair result.

    As a fim believer in a UI, there is nothing in that survey to upset me.

  • ayeYerMa

    This is already discussed (with graphics) on Politics.ie:

    A more significant statistic is that 51% of Catholic respondents now support the maintenance of the Union.

  • ayeYerMa

    … correction, 52%.

  • ayeYerMa
  • ayeYerMa

    Tochais Síoraí, Lionel has already admitted he made a mistake on interpretation of the “disappointment” stat.

  • between the bridges

    so quite a few of the CNR population want to remain British, and some SF voters will not admit to been SF voters, except when voting.

  • tacapall

    Who knows what the future brings, anything can happen between now and 2016 better off just saying at this point in time most population sample surveyed want to remain within the UK.

  • Lionel Hutz

    There’s also an issue in this with regards to the type of people who complete these types of surveys. If the voting preferences are anything to go by, it would suggest that the group that FJH calles “lets-get-alongers” are much more likely to answer this type of survey.

  • As DR cautions at the end of his blog above, there are significant anomalies in some of the responses. For example only 11 % are SF supporters and 17% favour SDLP. And 48% might not like a UI but could live with it and 37% would happily accept it; only 13% find it totally unpalatable.
    I suspect there is a lot of untruthfulness in the poll; I invariably lie to any and all pollsters. Any usefulness would only come from a series of such polls where trends might be spotted though lying may be pervasive.

  • ayeYerMa

    Remember, not everyone votes and the Sinner types are the most zealous at all at making sure to turn out. The graph I linked to above on Unionist/Nationalist/Neither identities seems rather accurate.

    Lionel, also look at the graph on the link I gave above showing trends on British/Irish/NI/Ulster identities – it’s fairly consistent across the years and seems an accurate reflection of the population.

    joe, look at all the graphs in the links provided above – the surveys have been repeated year on year and there is a clear trend, particularly amongst “don’t knows” (and in particular, Catholic “don’t knows”) moving towards favouring a devolved UK.

  • George

    Only 4% of Protestants consider themselves Irish.

  • Thanks, ayeYerMa. I’ve looked at your link and the trend is unmistakeable.

  • PaddyReilly

    The usual rubbish, which is marketing Catholic acceptance of partition for as long as a majority in the six counties want it, as something quite different, actual enthusiasm for it plus an intent to vote for its maintenance.

    The difference between the 16% and the 33% makes this obvious.

  • Greenflag

    In 1928 Germany’s Nazi Party got 2.7% in the elections and were considered as being of little significance . In 1932 they got 37% which by 1933 had declined to 33% . They still manged to climb into power for basically two reasons one was the division between Communists and the Nazis and the support of the latter by the old ‘scared’ order and the capitalists and the lower middle classes -and the other main reason without which the Nazis could never have succeeded was because of the Wall St crash of 1929 which destroyed the German middle classes and any remaining faith they had in ‘democracy’ or in democratic politicians solving Germany’s huge unemployment and monetary problems .

    Given the present economic and monetary uncertainties in Ireland -Northern Ireland and the UK and the Eurozone and the USA and indeed all across the planet it should come as no surprise that most people will under such circumstances opt for the known even if it’s not their first preference .

    Scotland’s success in electing a ‘nationalist’ government which seems to have achieved more in it’s few years than either Tories or Labour in decades bodes well for the ‘devolved’ parties . But then Scotland is not NI and despite close cultural and economic and historical connections it would be unwise to assume that NI’s political future will be decided by what happens to Scotland or Wales .

  • Progressive Unionist

    Only 4% of Protestants consider themselves Irish.

    That’s understandable, given the Troubles which many Protestants perceive as an attempt at forcing them to be Irish at the point of a gun. Before the Troubles a third of NI Protestants said they were Irish.

    That said, it’s still so depressing for all who want a shared Islands and a shared Ireland.

    There’s clearly a shitload of work to be done in terms of ensuring “Irishness” and an Irish identity is something which is neither nationalist or unionist and which can embrace everybody on the island.

  • augustiner hell

    as far as the UI questions are concerned you need to take into account that ‘IF’ word in the first line of the question before you can properly quantify the reponse to the actual question. I would imagine your engineer’s brain would appreciate the difference that makes.

    if you’re basing your “usual rubbish” arguement on “The difference between the 16% and the 33% makes this obvious” pointed out by Lionel in his first post then you need to read the questions a little closer.

  • augustiner hell,

    I take your point. It’s subtle but is worth a lot to stress the “If”.

  • PaddyReilly

    I do not need to read the questions in detail to spot the distortion. Basically if you want to get people’s true opinions you need to ask three parallel questions:

    1) As things are at present constituted, what is the best option for NI?
    2) In a referendum to end partition, how would you vote?
    3) If at some future time there were a clear Nationalist majority in Stormont or the NI Westminster seats or the 3 NI European Parliament seats, and a referendum to end partition were called, how would you vote?

    None of these surveys does so. Almost certainly because they do not wish to know.

    That Catholics have consented to partition pro tem we already know, because that was the substance of the GFA, for which virtually the whole of the Catholic population and a majority of the Protestant population voted (the Orange lodges dissenting) .That Nationalists would put up with it when Unionism had dwindled to a minority faction is something else entirely.

    So the purpose, if not of the survey, then at least of a lot of the people who are quoting it, is to take the answer to question one and pretend it is the answer to question three.

    And of course, any survey which has SF on 11% and the SDLP on 17% is unrepresentative of NI.

  • Reader

    Lionel Hutz: If the voting preferences are anything to go by, it would suggest that the group that FJH calles “lets-get-alongers” are much more likely to answer this type of survey.
    Or are much less likely to vote. Whether that wee change of emphasis matters depends on whether there will be a big or small turnout for a border poll.
    PaddyReilly: And of course, any survey which has SF on 11% and the SDLP on 17% is unrepresentative of NI.
    Depends on whether people who don’t turn out for elections would vote the same way as people who do. For instance – the Garden Centre Prods and Catholics may not fit your preferred political profile.

  • 241934 john brennan

    As a teenager, – one harvest day a long time ago, my faith in Irish surveys was forever shattered.

    Together with my older brother (then at university) and a neighbouring farmer, we were cutting oats with scythes in a roadside field. The farmer was well read; spoke Ulster Scots dialect, but knew and wrote the best Standard English grammar. He was also a fluent Irish speaker, knew a bit of Latin and some Astronomy – and one of his many hobbies was making sun dials.

    Along the road on bicycles came two young people; introduced themselves as student teachers doing a survey into educational attainment and needs, in rural areas. One of them produced a clip board and completed a questionnaire, based on our neighbour’s answers. He told them he had left primary school at age 12; had never since read a book, or written a letter. Asked about ‘his boys’ (us), he said we had left school at age 14, and had no more use, or need, for ‘book larnin’.

    When they left on their bikes, I asked why he had told them a pack of lies. The old man replied: “I was just being polite. It’s what they expected to hear.”

  • hehehehe, John.

  • Lionel Hutz

    At was at home there and put the question to my family:

    My brother said: “well I suppose it would be safer to keep it to the whole Stormont thing”

    I said. “so if there was referendum, you would vote for the Union?”

    “Fuck off!” he replied

  • Lionel Hutz

    Oh when will the census results be published?

  • Harry Flashman

    Do you remember that funny scene from “Give My Head Peace”? The cousin from Kerry is speaking a speech about a graveside oration for the South Armagh Postmistress who started her Rising in 1915 (she was from South Armagh, she was keen), he says that the spirit of the heroine would rise from the grave and ask all us volunteers today “Are those effin’ Brits still here?”

    Brilliant summation of the utter failure of the century long Irish Republican project.

    In ten years Northern Ireland will celebrate its centenary. Think about that, a hundred years old, the state that was dismissed thirty years ago as a failed political entity.

    Think of what’s happened in those one hundred years. The Soviet Union rose to be the second greatest superpower in history, conquered half of Europe before collapsing in ignominy twenty years ago. Germany rose to conquer half of Europe also, was invaded, defeated, occupied and divided before being reunited forty years later. The face of Africa and Asia has changed immeasurably in that time as new countries and nations have sprung up. Entire empires have disappeared, vast wars have been fought, grand alliances have been created and dissolved in that time.

    Through it all Northern Ireland remained as a part of the United Kingdom, even through thirty years when it faced internal warfare.

    The Vietnamese saw off the Japanese, the French, the Americans and the Chinese and the Irish Republican Army in all that time couldn’t shift the British out of six miserable, wee damp counties of Ireland.

    African tribesmen with pointy sticks got the Brits out, the Indians did it through non-violence, the Chinese simply asked for Hong Kong back and got it handed to them on a platter. But now the chief of staff of the IRA sits and meekly administers British rule in Northern Ireland.

    But still they cling to the brave hope that “we’ll breed them out yet”. I’ve got news for you, I’m heading to meet my half century soon and I’ve been hearing that dream for every year of my life.

    Dream on.

    2016 will pass with a part of Ireland still ruled by Britain, so will the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland, the more likely event is that the Republic of Ireland will actually cease to be a sovereign independent nation in the course of the next decade.

  • john

    Interesting analysis Harry I didnt realise the British accounted for about 55% of the population of India and Africa and Hong Kong and all other areas that the British have left from!! Cant really compare like for like now can you

  • Last year when I looked at the NILT survey, I compared the surveys for the previous years to the following questions and published a graph on my blog (which, I hasten to add has now been abandoned)

    Generally speaking, do you consider yourself as a unionist, nationalist or neither?


    “Which of these best describes the way you think of yourself?”


    This years survey gives the following results for the first question:

    Unionist 34%, Nationalist 20%, Neither 45%, Other 1%

    and to the second question

    British 37%, Irish 25%, Ulster 4%, Northern Irish 28%, Other 5%

    The longer term trend showed Unionism and Britishness in decline with Nationalism/Irishness either holding its own or, in the case of Irishness, slightly increasing.

    These trends have now been clearly “bucked” by the this years survey.

    I am now wondering what the impact of the Irish Financial crisis has been on Nationalism and the Irish identity. We wont know if there is a proper trend away from it until we see next year’s survey.

    The only long term trend which seems to be surviving is the trend towards agnosticism on the union and the Northern Irish identity.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Have always hated the question “are you British, Irish, Northern Irish or other” its like asking a man “are you a Father, Son, Brother or Husband” when he is all of them.

    It is a FACT all citizens of Northern Ireland are British, that is your default nationality, they also are Irish in the broadist sense, born on the Island of Ireland, many have dual nationality via an Irish Passport, including myself! ( my grandmother was born in Donegal so I would be entitled to one even if I wasn’t born in NI ), as for Northern Irish, I’m not sure it exists as a legal identity, but once again it remains a fact, and should in no way detract from the Irish or British identity.

    It is entirely possible to be Irish and a Unionist, Northern Irish and a Unionist and British and a Unionist, I am all three, why are we forced to make a choice?

  • JR

    “It is a FACT all citizens of Northern Ireland are British,”

    No it is not. I live in the UK but I am Irish, I was born in Ireland my parents are Irish I have an Irish passport. There is nothing that makes me British.

  • OneNI

    Seymour I think you might be on to something re the Irish financial crisis. It is clearer now than for anytime in decades that a United Ireland is entirely financially unviable.
    One wonders how the Queens Visit and the fact that the Conservative Chancellor of the UK has not only provided financial assistance to the Republic but strongly batted for the Republic in Europe will impact on the attitudes of Irish Catholic voters

  • JR,

    There is nothing that makes me British

    If you were born in any part of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, then the British Nationality Act of 1981 says that there is:


    It does, however, give you the option of renunciating that priviledge if you write a letter doing so to the UK’s Home Secretary.

    But it’s probably not worth the increased blood pressure worrying too much about it, why not go with the flow?

    I’m more than happy to be a mix of British, Irish, E
    European and Ulster rather than forcing myself to stick to an unnatural monocultural identity.

  • Greenflag


    ‘I am all three, why are we forced to make a choice?’

    Who exactly is forcing you ? You can be all three even in the Irish Republic and probably even more so in a UI . In the latter situation you would be in exactly the same situation as present day non unionist Irish in Northern Ireland and as we constantly hear from the MSM they’ve never had it so good as they do today -at least up to this recent neo con inspired worldwide economic crisis.

    Seymour’s point re the political i.e constitutional impact of the current financial crisis is worth making . However it should also be borne in mind that the Irish ‘desire ‘ for political freedom transcended ‘economics’ in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries . It made as much sense ‘economically’ then for Ireland to exit the union as it would today for Northern Ireland to become an independent state and go it alone .

    But that’s what happened and it happened for many reasons and ultimately because of the primacy of politics over economics and despite the oft repeated mantras of the ‘marketeers- ‘ the unpredictability ‘ of human behaviour and attitudes in extremis .

  • Greenflag

    ‘the fact that the Conservative Chancellor of the UK has strongly batted for the Republic in Europe will impact on the attitudes of Irish Catholic voter’

    Why exactly would’nt he ? The Republic’s economy keeps at least one million people in the UK in jobs . As we have seen the financial crisis in the Eurozone has impacted NI in every area from increased unemployment to a drop in property values.

  • JR


    The British Nationality Act of 1981 can say what it wants about me, to me it’s just paper and words.

  • Dec

    ‘It is a FACT all citizens of Northern Ireland are British, that is your default nationality, they also are Irish in the broadist sense, born on the Island of Ireland, many have dual nationality via an Irish Passport, including myself!’

    It is also a FACT that Irish nationality is not conferred solely through a passport application. British citizenship (rather than British nationality which to my mind exclusively belongs to people from Great Britain) is as relevant to me as European Citizenship is as relevant to the average member of the UKIP.

  • The British Nationality Act of 1981 can say what it wants about me, to me it’s just paper and words…and the law which determines your automatic citizenship from birth. It doesn’t force a national identity upon anyone or set out to make people feel British, that remains your own choice.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “rather than British nationality which to my mind exclusively belongs to people from Great Britain”

    Your mind is misleading you sir, all UK nationality laws relate to the UK as a whole, NI included.
    Whereas “Irish-born children of at least one British citizen parent are entitled to Irish citizenship. This includes children born in Northern Ireland. This grant of citizenship is not automatic but is a choice to be exercised. ” Therefore NI residents have to APPLY to become Irish Nationals, the respective laws between the UK & RoI are complex, but very generous in comparison to most other states.

  • Dec


    You’re confusing citizenship and nationality. I may well be, on paper a British citizen, but my nationality is not British. I suggest you re-read the GFA to find out the current position on nationality in NI.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “A person born on the island of Ireland on or after 1 January 2005 is … automatically an Irish citizen if he or she is not entitled to the citizenship of any other country:
    or is entitled to be an Irish citizen if at least one of his or her parents is:
    an Irish citizen (or someone entitled to be an Irish citizen);
    a British citizen;
    a resident of the island of Ireland who is entitled to reside in either the Republic or in Northern Ireland without any time limit on that residence; or
    a legal resident of the island of Ireland for three out of the 4 years preceding the child’s birth (although time spent as a student or as an asylum seeker does not count for this purpose).[8]
    A person who is entitled to become an Irish citizen becomes an Irish citizen if:

    he or she does any act that only Irish citizens are entitled to do; or
    any act that only Irish citizens are entitled to do is done on his of her behalf by a person entitled to do so”

    From wikipedia, I’m not sure what that “act” might be, but I’m presuming applying for a passport is the most obvious. Therefore a NI born person has to ACT to become an Irish citizen.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “There are six different forms of British nationality, of which British citizenship is one. Only British citizens have an automatic right to live and work in the United Kingdom, and to apply for a British passport.” Stephen Scown Sol. website. Therefore if you are a British Citizen you are auntomatically a British National, but not vice versa.

  • Dec

    ‘Therefore a NI born person has to ACT to become an Irish citizen.’

    You’re ignoring the Descent clause. But hey, I’m an Irish European, you’re a British European.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Descent still only means you may be ENTITLED to Irish Citzenship, you have to ACT to secure it.

  • Dec

    If either of your parents was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, then you are automatically an Irish citizen, irrespective of your place of birth. Stop digging.

  • ayeYerMa

    A more interesting statistic than the question on your non-mutually exclusive identity is the other one that discusses identities that actually are mutually exclusive*- those of a “Unionist” vs. “Nationalist” identity. Virtually ZERO Protestants that identify with this term “Nationalist” and virtually ZERO Catholics that identify with this term “Unionist”. Shows how worthless the mutually exclusive terms of “Unionist” and “Nationalist” are and how ludicrous it is that we have a system based on them.

    Especially for the Unionist parties, I think this shows how the term “Unionist” doesn’t actually correspond to the position on the border at all and how the DUP would be doing itself big favours by a bit less of the flag waving on election materials and putting more efforts towards disentangling itself and Unionism from Protestantism.

    Contrary to what Seymour Major is saying the trend for BOTH of these meaningless “Unionist” and “Nationalist” identities is in decline and has been for a while. It’s also funny listening to the Irish Republicans/Nationalists here like PaddyReilly complaining about how the survey asks the opinion of people on the border now, rather than asking people to use their imagination about some hypothetical magical fantasy land that may or may not exist 100 years in the future!!! The trend shows the momentum continuing in favour of the Union and people being satisfied with that. Irish Republicans are striding against the tide, and unless they have some way of stopping rivers and getting them to flow in the other direction, then it’s time to give it a rest and put all those resources at their disposal into making Northern Ireland work.

    * one could though call themselves both a “British Unionist” and “Irish Nationalist” by advocating a Reunited Kingdom of the British Isles.

    PS: lads, you’re all from the British Isles and so are geographically British as well.

  • PaddyReilly

    some hypothetical magical fantasy land that may or may not exist 100 years in the future!!!

    Dear dear dear. We are talking about the loss of one Westminster seat. Unionists outnumber Nationalists by what- about 22,000 votes? I concede that Unionists are champion manipulators and thwarters of the democratic process, but we have Fair Employment now.

    Just look what the political map was like 19 years ago:-


    and look at it now:


    Do you think that Unionist decline, which set in with the onset of Fair Employment, has now suddenly stopped? Well obviously that is what you would like to believe, but the impartial observer will not be swayed.

  • This nationality argument is, as usual, as dreary as the steeples in that far off county of which we know little.

  • SK

    “2016 will pass with a part of Ireland still ruled by Britain, so will the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland, the more likely event is that the Republic of Ireland will actually cease to be a sovereign independent nation in the course of the next decade.”


    First you cancel your gig in The Village and now this! 😀

    Considering the point from which nationalists in the north started, I would argue they’ve played a blinder since partition.

  • ayeYerMa

    Seymour Major, what a nonsense analysis on a “decline” of Unionism or British identity (even based purely on last year’s figures)!

    Firstly, as already pointed out about identity – it isn’t mutually exclusive and the poll is forcing you to pick one. A trend from British -> Northern Irish is merely a start of the reversal of the polarisation caused by the Troubles. As Unionists realise that there is absolutely no threat to the Union (in fact it strengthening), then they can be confident enough to express a more localised identity.

    A “Unionist identity” and actual Unionism are not the same thing, nor how people primarily define themselves. A more confident Unionism does not need to emphasise “Unionist identity” at all and can instead focus its efforts on normalisation and non-identity issues.

  • lamhdearg

    2050, before 50% +1 vote for dublin rule, then repartition. There will always be an Ulster.

  • SK

    “2050, before 50% +1 vote for dublin rule, then repartition.”


    The consent principle was Unionism’s baby- you can’t simply disregard it when the numbers don’t suit you anymore.

  • lamhdearg

    “you can’t simply disregard it when the numbers don’t suit you anymore.” if “you” means I, in 2050 I will most likely be dead, and if not, i will be in no fit state to resist a bed bath never mind dublin rule. As for the rest of the 50% -1, i cant see all of them holding firm to the principle of consent, (after all not all irish nationalist accept it today and many more where prepared to kill in the last 90 years in their opposition to it,) it would not take all of them to cause/threaten enough bloodshed and cause a rethink. As for me I hope that well before 2050 the people of Ulster, will have chosen the belfast rule option, with good relations with london and dublin.

  • SK

    “i cant see all of them holding firm to the principle of consent, (after all not all irish nationalist accept it today and many more where prepared to kill in the last 90 years in their opposition to it,) it would not take all of them to cause/threaten enough bloodshed and cause a rethink.”

    Ah, so unionists are only democrats for so long as they are in the majority.

    Well I’m shocked!

  • Reader

    SK: Ah, so unionists are only democrats for so long as they are in the majority.
    That’s a strangely sweeping generalisation. As though the existence of the Real IRA proved that nationalists had no respect for the electorate or the electoral process at all. Same logic.

  • Neville Bagnall

    I’m not particularly surprised by the political attitudes results except for one case. More on that anon.

    That there has been a reduction in the support for reunification since 2006 is hardly surprising given current economic reality. If anything it reinforces the argument that a sizable section of the electorate will vote in a referendum based on economic and other non-patriotic factors. That can cut both ways.

    Given the other cross-community parallels, it seems to me that nationalists need to promote clear non-patriotic advantages to reunification and remove the (real and imagined) non-patriotic disadvantages.

    Now returning to that one surprising result. 18% of protestant unionists “would find [reunification] almost impossible to accept”.

    I’d expected the figure to be higher than that of catholic nationalists with regard to remaining in the UK, who after all have daily experience of that reality; but 18%? This isn’t “would not like it, but could live with it”, it’s almost as if they would give serious consideration to emigration rather than live under Dublin rule. In this day and age, why?

    As a protestant born and raised in the south but who has recently spent a fair amount of time living day-to-day in the north, I just can’t see what could provoke such a visceral reaction.

    I’m really curious about this. What makes the UK so attractive and the Republic so repulsive?

    Finally, and possibly relatedly, there is one option for the long-term policy answer I would have liked to have seen. It would also rebalance the question given the addition of devolved government. I’d rework it as:

    Do you think the long-term policy for Northern Ireland should be for it to …
    Remain part of the United Kingdom with direct rule
    Remain part of the United Kingdom with devolved government
    Reunify with the rest of Ireland with direct rule
    Reunify with the rest of Ireland with devolved government
    Become an Independent state
    Don’t know

  • PaddyReilly

    That’s a strangely sweeping generalisation

    A fair enough comment. Unionism comes in a spectrum. There are those who will submit to the will of a non-unionist majority, and those who will not.

    Basically, the crucial statistic is the religious complexion of the over 65s. In 2001 there were 72,539 Catholics over the age of 65 and 149,061 Protestants.

    When this lot have died off the demography will be quite different. What is the life expectancy of a 65 year old? Probably a third of them have already gone. The significance of 2016 is that by that time the majority of them will be gone.

    Of course Drumlins knows that Catholics are all Unionists, so there is nothing to worry about.

  • Neville Bagnall

    The age breakdown would seem to suggest that deaths won’t make a huge difference.


    You could even make an argument that the recent youth trend if continued will lead to a further drop in support for reunification as the older cohort dies off.

  • Neville Bagnall

    The significant and consistent age related change is in self-classification.
    whereas 24% of those 65+ consider themselves neither Unionist or nationalist this rises to 66% in the youngest cohort.

    It is surely this that is most significant. Demographics won’t cut it. The argument for reunification or the union has to be made to the majority who don’t see themselves as defined by the national question.

  • Neville Bagnall

    Majority is too strong a word, but they are the increasingly large swing vote.

  • ayeYerMa

    Some more graphs, this time also looking at the differences between Catholics and Protestants:

    Best future for NI (all):

    Best future for NI (Catholics):

    Best future for NI (Protestants):


    Best-fitting single identity (all):

    Best-fitting single identity (Catholics):

    Best-fitting single identity (Protestants):


    “Unionist” v. “Nationalist” (all):

    “Unionist” v. “Nationalist” (Catholics):

    “Unionist” v. “Nationalist” (Protestants):


    For me, the most significant trends when considering the Catholic vs. Protestant aspect:

    – the overwhelming swing of the Catholic “Don’t Knows” towards the status quo of the Union, causing an overall Catholic majority favourable to the status quo.

    – the absolute overwhelming dominance of pro-Union opinion by Protestants.

    – the absolute meaninglessness of “Unionist” and “Nationalist” as identities. To the public these phrases mean nothing more than “super prod” or “super taig” and actually have not got a direct correspondence to someone’s take on the border. There are essentially ZERO Catholics with a “Unionist identity” (even though 52% for the UK and a small proportion with a primary British identity) and ZERO Protestants with a “Nationalist identity”. Shows how unproductive and pointless it is to have an entire system of government based on placating polarised identities that have no common ground.

  • OneNI

    The cold hard economic reality is that per capita debt in the Republic is three and a half times that of the UK. Ultimately this debt has to be brought under control by increased taxes and/or reduced public spending.
    Most people in NI – regardless of their religious background will not vote to join the Republic given those hard realities.
    A referendum in NI today would be won 8:1

  • john

    I agree with Neville Bagnall that any future referendum would need to have the additional option of autonomy within a United Ireland otherwise the referendum itself is bias by giving 2 British choices to the one Irish choice.
    Repartition is a non-starter – look at all the trouble the last partition has caused

  • Drumlins Rock

    John, will agree that repartition is a nonstarter, and there is no real desire for it apart from an eccentric fringe on both sides, I live in a mixed area and want it to stay that way no matter which side of some line I ended up on. As for the idea of autonomy within a UI, no serious proposal for such exists at present, merely hints, ok they include an “Independant NI” which is just as untangible and should really be removed, as in fact the direct rule option eventually I guess.

  • JR

    I also agree that repartition is a non starter. The main reason being Belfast. How could that ever be peacefuly repartitioned?

    I wonder if a bosnia type solution might work? Two countries in one. 1 set of infrastructue but two administrations. We would get a vote in the Irish presidential elections, you lot could keep the Queen. We pay tax to Dublin, you could pay to London. You guys march on a sunday to keep fit, we play our GAA sports. All administered by a big super computer. Just trying to think outside the box.

  • OneNI

    Why are people talking about repartition or ‘Bosnian type’ solutions? The Union is supported by five times as many people as a United Ireland and the trend is towards a bigger endorsement – get used to it.
    After all we have a ‘grand county council’ for the 0.5% of the UK population who vote SF and the 0.5% who vote DUP to make themselves feel important?

  • ayeYerMa

    For those complaining about the questioning, I can also argue that think there actually is actually a slight pro-united Ireland / Irish Nationalist bias in the following wording:
    “Reunify with the rest of Ireland”.

    It would be more clearly and accurately written as:

    “Leave the United Kingdom and unify with the rest of Ireland”.

    “Reunify” erroneously implies that Ireland was unified as a separate sovereign state in the past, and the original statement does not make clear whether it means that Northern Ireland would still be part of the United Kingdom or not.

    Could also have the additional question:
    “Reunify with the rest of Ireland in a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” !!!!

    But where does adding all those options get us, apart from making the survey more confusing? We have actually experienced both UK devolved government and UK direct rule recently and therefore are likely to have opinions on those. There are so many options available for this “United Ireland” that it doesn’t make sense to list 20 different versions of it and only confuses things, especially since Irish Nationalist politicians have never had a coherent vision of what this “United Ireland” would entail.

  • Eddie (Eamonn) Mac Bhloscaidh

    I think the 11% Sinn Vote stat makes this poll a nonsence.

    I have met two Northern Irish Catholics in my life and two Catholic Unionists – same two.

    All my experience tells me that this pole is nonsence.

    The only thing I could see happening is that some young people from a nationalist background could be succumbing to a Northern Irish identity.

    Hardly suprising given the amount of NIO/BBC propaganda and the partitionism which holds sway in the Republic.

    Surely a question that Sinn Féin and the SDLP should be addressing, given that the priority of any nationality under occupation is to resist assimilation.

  • Nonsense Numbers in this poll : Watch Out! – Dodgy Survey Suggests “Most Northern Ireland Catholics want to remain in UK”


  • orly

    “Now returning to that one surprising result. 18% of protestant unionists “would find [reunification] almost impossible to accept”.”

    I think I’d find it almost impossible to accept because I believe it would be an unmitigated disaster for everyone. First off, “the irish” have shown the world they’re incapable of running an economy when it’s shit or when the money is literally pouring out of the heavens. Us Northern Irish are the same – Could do pish all on our own. How would they (the southerners) square adding a shade under 2 million people into the mix? I hear the dole is (was?) more than the weekly wage for a big chunk of workers up here. Aren’t the pensions a good bit more generous too. We’d all be bankrupt in no time. Then again the ROI is pretty much bankrupt now.

    Further, you’d almost certainly have a new era of Troubles except for the role reversal. You’d definitely have a small section of “loyalists” ready to give it all they’ve got. Given that the Guards and the Irish “Army” aren’t exactly battle hardened it could be quite a spectacle. The Guards aren’t even armed. What a comedy.

    On the other hand, a bit of savvy political operating by “unionist” politicians could almost certainly get them more “power” then they ever dreamed of. Anyone able to carry a few hundred thousand votes would almost certainly become an important player in any election in a country where coalition is nearly the default outcome.

    If I may be so bold to engage in some fantasy – I have no real problem with a united Ireland under the right circumstances (as a thoroughly atheist unionist from a protestant background). Ideally I’d quite enjoy an Ireland within some sort of federal UK. The monarchy bit could be a problem. Maybe keep the Queen but rename the country to “Britain and Ireland” for a somewhat geographically accurate moniker. It all kind of makes sense in my head. Have England looked after from London and the “devolved” bits in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Dublin. Stormont, as it’s a waste of time and money could become a hotel or something. Run “the constituent countries” mostly autonomously but have the same currency, similar taxes, a single army and the like for defence. All very civilised and mature. Could even tell the EU to “get tae f…” and do our own thing again. Lovely.

  • Tony1221

    I dont see the 16% figure as a valid poll that would be replicated on a referendum day. For two reasons.

    Primarily because it was carried out between Oct-Dec last year, right in the middle of the Irish Euro Crisis. (Come on . . !). During this same time the media North and South and particularly in GB was full of talk of loss of Economic sovereignty, was this what 1916 was for etc etc. (The GB media conveniently forgetting to mention that the UK was bailed out by the IMF in the 70’s).
    Interesting how the pollsters waited to release their “findings” until the day before Gerry Adams launched a two day conference in Dublin and Cork on attaining a United Ireland. (Makes you wonder about the “random sample” of people who were actually polled).

    Secondly. The Poll asked the people if they were happy with the status quo in NI. Well with peace, a comfy puppet assembly (rather than real government with opposition) and the massive financial subsidies from the UK taxpayer continuing . . . why wouldnt that get the thumbs up!!! Of course people are happy with that!!
    But its time for a wake up call here . . . PM Camerons recent speech to the assembly made clear the UK government subsidies are going to end. “Gone are the day’s when London will wright a blank cheque for NI” I believe were his exact words. So . . . until NI has a real representative Government and opposition, and it becomes an economically viable territory that can pay for itself, any Poll is skewed and quite irrelevant really.

    The silent majority occupying the middle ground in NI dont appear to have any patriotic allegience to either the Republic or the UK. A large % appear somewhat country-less/definition-less and somewhat a mongrel nationality without meaning to be offensive. These are the voters who will ultimately decide the issue.

    I have no doubt there will be a United Ireland but it will take at least 30 to 50 more years, maybe more.

  • Mrs jones

    16% to 51%?-According To Nationalist Leader Gerry Adams,Republicans like Dathaí O’Conaill who rejected the Unionist veto were on the ball 25 years ago with their proposals for a Federal Solution to Partition.Speaking at the Sinn Fein unity conference Mr Adams MP/TD,who delivered the main address,called on the Taoiseach to commission a Green Paper on Irish unity which would address all aspects of this “national and democratic” project, including its political, social, economic, cultural, legal, administrative and international dimensions.The former West Belfast MP said a joint Committee of the Oireachtas on Irish unity should monitor, assess and report progress on the Green Paper’s implementation.He called for an end to duplication of services north and south and said a federated Ireland could be part of the solution. Mr Adams stressed that the views of unionists needed to be taken into account.Dublin 4 resident Aengus O’Snodaigh said Conradh Na Gaeilge had a vital part to play.

    1913-2013-I wonder how James Connolly would feel about the Carnival Reaction and the possibility of Ireland under a Fine Gael/Dup Government.Mr Adams could do worse than admit that Enda Kenny won’t produce a Green Paper on unity.Why should he?What have Fine Gael to gain from unity?Nothing.The Labour Party are cruising.Unity is a threat to them as well.I mean like would you sacrifice your salary of 112,000/pension plan to accomadate 460,000 people getting employment?
    Fairplay to Mr Adams for attending the Irish Tidy Towns competition.The Green Issues are Important in Todays world.