A poll conducted by Danske Bank has found that a majority of people here wish to stay within the EU. Conducted in June 2015, surveying 1,009 people sought to gage the attitudes of people in Northern Ireland towards EU membership. (Note there is 3% margin of error on the poll).
The survey found 58% of those surveyed were content to remain within the EU, compared to 16% against, 26% were undecided.
Breaking down the attitudes of those who are in favour the poll found that 44% who were content to stay with the current terms and conditions and a further 14% who would like to stay but want to see the UK renegotiate the terms and conditions of membership.
Speaking about the poll, Danske Bank’s Chief Economist, Angela McGowan said;
Support for EU membership is most likely higher in Northern Ireland because the region has always been a net recipient of EU funding. The Common Agricultural Policy, Structural Funds, Rural Development funds and the Peace and Reconciliation monies have all made a dramatic contribution to life in Northern Ireland over the last 40 years.
There are also some valid criticisms of the European Union around burdensome regulation on small companies and the Greek bailout earlier this year was considered by many to have pushed the democratic boundaries. Nonetheless, it appears that people in Northern Ireland, particularly older people, have an appreciation for the traditional support that flowed from Europe to Northern Ireland and many in the business community and in border areas enjoy being part of a larger market.
Breakdown of the poll
Men v women
More men are content to stay in the European Union with a full 64% of males compared to 53% of females prepared to remain a member. However, women were less certain than males about how they would vote with 32% of females saying they ‘don’t know’ versus only 19% of males.
In of the highest preference for staying in the EU, 50-64-year-olds in Northern Ireland are the most favourable with with 61% opting for remaining an EU member.
Interestingly the number of younger people want to remain an EU member has dropped to 55%. The younger age group were also more cautious with only 9% certain that they would like to see an exit from the EU and a 36% admitting that they ‘don’t know’ whether or not the UK should remain in or leave.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs