Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey suggests slight increase in support for Irish unity and cross-community support for abortion reform

The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey for 2016, which was carried out last year and the results of which were released today, suggests that support for a united Ireland has increased in the wake of last year’s referendum when the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Support for Irish unity amongst the Catholic community was up three percentage points, from 31% to 34%. Whilst this is the highest it has been in this decade so far, it is still down substantially from before the St. Andrew’s Agreement was signed in 2006, when support for a United Ireland amongst adult Catholics in Northern Ireland was 56%.

Alliance Party supporters are amongst the groups that have shown a significant increase in support for Irish unity since the referendum. Support for a united Ireland amongst Alliance voters was 21% in 2016, compared with 12% in 2015 and 8% in 2014.

Amongst Alliance voters, 29% said that the results of last year’s referendum has made them more in favour of Irish unity, a figure which was identical for both Catholic and Protestant Alliance voters. When asked whether Brexit would make Northern Ireland better or worse off, 84% of Alliance voters thought that they would be either probably or definitely worse off, which was the highest of any party supporters in Northern Ireland.

This suggests that some Alliance voters from both sides of the community who are opposed to Brexit are now more amenable to Irish unification due to the referendum. However the referendum seems to have had only a moderate impact on support for unity amongst nationalists.

For example, 81% 70% of SDLP voters said they were not in favour of a united Ireland, and amongst those only 17% reported that Brexit had made them more favourable to unity. This is despite the fact that 79% of SDLP voters believe Northern Ireland will be worse off as a result of Brexit. It appears that opposition to Brexit amongst SDLP voters has not yet translated into a large increase in support for Irish unity.

Economic attitudes towards Brexit are split down community lines. Nationalist voters believe that Brexit will make Northern Ireland worse off (79% of SDLP voters and 78% of Sinn Féin voters), whilst unionists believe that they will be better off due to Brexit, with only 40% of UUP voters and 26% of DUP voters believing the Northern Ireland economy will be adversely affected.

Whilst Brexit has appeared to have had an impact on attitudes towards the constitutional question in Northern Ireland, the impact appears to be muted so far.

Elsewhere in the survey, questions were asked about attitudes to abortion in Northern Ireland. There appears to be a substantial cross-community consensus in favour of legalising abortion in case of fatal foetal abnormalities, or in cases of rape or incest. However, supporters of nationalist and unionist parties are both opposed to legalisation of abortion in cases where a woman has become pregnant and does not want to have children.

Despite Northern Ireland being as divided as ever on constitutional issues and split as to how Brexit will impact the local economy, there is clear evidence of liberalization on social issues on both sides of the community. It remains to be seen whether a new devolved administration at Stormont, if there is one, will reflect these sentiments with legislation.

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  • Croiteir

    Are you saying that SF are less green than the SDLP?

  • babyface finlayson

    peter
    I can’t see any WTFACTOR but thanks anyway.
    I will have another look.

  • BERZERKERMG

    The lack of a question on joint authority is surely the most baffling. How high would a joint UI/JA percentage be and what would that say about satisfaction with the Union.

  • grumpy oul man

    So no marchs on private property, because you dont believe there should be no, our areas or there areas,
    But there are and the OO so bascilly what you are saying is that the OO should be allowed to walk through areas were the residents find them offensive, thats handy , just checking would you support a republician parade up the Shankill?
    Street furniture would be lampost etc. Shoud be obvious .
    All paramilitary flage down, well at least we agree on something.
    I agree with dressing kids up in costumes that promote hatred but im surprised you only mentioned the IRA, unionists do a awful lot more of this , every 12th we see little kids dressed up like UDA/UVF linked bands.
    I do notice that while asking for a lot of things your not willing to give anything up .
    (assuming your being honest about paramilitary flags coming down)
    No restrictions on OO Parades .

  • BERZERKERMG

    Chris, have you ever considered that support for a United Ireland was only ever so strong when nationalists were in the minority and felt oppressed? And that the fact it is so low now is down to the fact not that the nationalists have come around to the concept of the Union, but rather that they know in a few years they will be in the majority and completely dominate Northern Ireland politics? All the elections, all the polls, they’re garbage… all that matters is that British-identifying people are soon to be in the minority in Northern Ireland, no argument or debate will render that fact obsolete. If I was a northern nationalist, why the hell would I dilute my power to be a bit player in Dublin politics when I could be running the show in Northern Ireland…. all at the British taxpayer’s expense!!!!! There’s a beautiful irony to it. It honestly doesn’t matter to me as a southerner if there’s never a UI, but I do love the fact that the British contingent in Ireland will be a minority wherever it is in a few years. Those triumphalist orange parades will look so pathetic when you know you have to get permission from nationalists for them.

  • jporter

    Are there no Ulster Prods on the left? Bit of a lack of nuance and insight there.

  • jporter

    Surely, though, you could swap that round and say that the binary question is flawed and lacks nuance and options (as is argued about the Brexit vote) and when given options, most people tellingly prefer the status quo with devolution.

  • james

    No, I’m saying the SDLP are trying to outflank them on the wrong flank.

  • james

    “The UDA is case you didn’t know is a sectarian murder squad.”

    Agreed. And thus, yes, they are the direct equivalents of Sinn Fein’s paramilitary wing.

    As far as I know, though, the UDA are not pro-life so I’m not quite sure where you’re going with that one.

  • Factorygirl

    Sorry, I’m pretty sure you were referring to northern nationalists enjoying certain benefits that were bestowed on them by the Dublin government, and then telling them to FO because of their ingratitude. Were you not? This is a list of benefits given to citizens of the ROI. They’re not the same thing. Incidentally, you’re really stretching things on points 6, 7 & 8. I’ve never had a problem using a British passport, and equality before the law is a principle of English common law on which Irish law is based.

    But anyway, Trasna, you sound angry! What happened? Let me guess: Your weltanschauung has been completely shattered by the realisation that many northern nationalists reject the mother’s milk of romantic nationalism- one part Anglo-phobic resentment, a good dose of over simplified and erroneous historical interpretation, all washed down with a mouthful of economic denial.
    Why should a Catholic from the North automatically support Irish unity? Try not to define people by the religion they were born into, Trasna. It’s 2017 after all.

  • grumpy oul man

    Aw James, the point was ( perhaps i didnt explain it right)
    The problem is that unionists can square circle’s with the UDA for example by being anti drugs but still working with drug dealers.
    And just a little fact SF dont have a paramilitary wing.
    And while during the troubles the IRA did carry out several terrible secterian attacks but all the UDAs were secterian, that and crimality were its only objectives.

  • 1729torus

    I don’t know why there is isn’t more concern that NI might end up in the same place as a hypothetical Home Rule Ireland, given that’s what the UVF were originally opposed to back in 1912.

  • BERZERKERMG

    Better grow some balls and make sure that doesn’t happen then, yeah?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Chris, you are mistaking the constitutionalist nationalism of the SDLP for an absence of nationalism, very much the line that SF have always implied. I’ve known SDLP members ever since Gerry Fitt came and talked to the Labour Party Young Socialists at the Salisbury Street offices in the mid to late 1960s. I marched with John Hume ( a wee bit further down the line) and still know a number of County Antrim SDLP members, some as friends. They wish for their political identity and civil rights to be fully recognised and respected, but they also wish for a re-unified Ireland, but a reunification effected through constitutional means rather than by force and intimidation. They’ve always been ready for re-unification, simply not by force.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    1729ts, have you looked at what a Home Rule Ireland would have entailed/ We are already seeing more powers at Stormont than the Dublin Parliament would have had. There question to ask yourself is what was the motivation of Unionist opposition to Home Rule. At one end of the spectrum it was the maintenance of confessional privilege and fear of business taxation by the Belfast plutocrats, at the other end it was naked sectarianism. with “Home Rule” still under Westminster and still returning MPs to Westminster from across Ireland, the separatist scare was very, very far from reality in 1910-14. Interestingly, the NI structure was in effect Gladstonian Home Rule, and we were the only part of Ireland to, oh so ironically, be gifted with this. The moral elasticity of Unionism to such matters is almost a century old.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Have you encountered Michael Collins’ “The Likes of Us, A biography of the White Working Class.” ? Very much a grass-roots book by an Eastender defending his community against liberal “slurs and caricatures.” Highly recommended.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    There’ve always been a few effete “champagne socialists” like myself doing our “Weggie Benn tribute act” from the leafy Belfast suburbs. But East Belfast itself with its heavy industry has always had a hard-core of serious and committed socialists since they elected Jack Beattie in the pre-war period and headed the Labour upsurge in the early 1960s. In both cases Unonism regrouped and smothered the trend with serious propaganda campaigns or with that violence which ensured Beattie wore a steel helmet for election campaigns where he was pelted with bricks.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Runny, what you are thinking about is not so much a pro-British trend as a recognition by young people that with “ever closer union” in Europe, the old politics of nationality were becoming redundant. But with a resurgence of British nationalism against this trend, and a majority vote locally for Europe, it would be a foolhardy person who suggests that the demographic somehow underpin the odd DUP fantasy of the “one people, one wee six, one party” “Thousand Year Union.”

  • 1729torus

    In the essays “The Constitutional Question” and “The Control of Judiciary and Police” in Against Home Rule: The Case for the Union, the fear seems to be that a Home Rule Ireland would be a kind of fiefdom, like Chechnya today.

    The author was concerned that the British legal system would be completely subverted and unenforceable in practice, and London would be too frightened or disinterested to intervene. A Home Rule Ireland would be its own legal space, divorced from the rest of the UK and increasingly drifting away. Again, consider Dagestan or Chechnya in Russia and the prevelance of Sharia Law and slavery. The Russian courts and authorities are powerless to intervene in practice

  • Skibo

    If you are going to elect a party on who they are not and not on who they are then you have to expect to get labelled by what that party stands for. It seems that if you set aside your feelings on the constitution, the policies you support would be closer to Sinn Fein than the DUP.

  • Skibo

    Strange your analysis on voting in 2015. Nigel Dodds was elected on a single issue, “vote for me to protect the Union”, no other policy. If that is not aligning the two communities against each other what is? The fact that no other Unionist politician would stand against him shows that the Unionist electorate were happy with it being either Unionist or nationalist but keep telling yourself it was all Gerry Kelly’s fault.
    This year Nigel didn’t reject support from LCC, neither did Emma. Did you object? It took Jeffrey in a very safe Unionist seat to reject the support of the UDA and push their leader into following suit but I believe you will find no such rejection from either Nigel or Emma.

  • Skibo

    I would fall into the exact same position.

  • Skibo

    The SDLP vote only fell by 2.2% so it would seem that the figures do not follow completely. Perhaps had the L&T poll given a straight Reunification v UK choice, they would have come up with a different scenario.

  • Skibo

    Should that not be the job of the Unionist parties? Unfortunately they believe that any acceptance of Irish identity, culture and language will dilute their strength in controlling the working class Unionists. They cannot be the enemy and friendly at the same time.

  • Skibo

    James an old argument that is past it’s sell by date.

  • Skibo

    Marcus the problem is it is not a direct comparison of UK v Ireland. There are a number of scenarios for breaking up the UK but only one for saving it.

  • Skibo

    The younger generation will also be more interested in being part of the EU and looking to the future rather than the past. It is only when you get tied down with a mortgage and a couple of wains that you become afraid of change. In the end Brexit will supply all the change we need.

  • Skibo

    They have signed up to holding a referendum if there is to be on in the North.

  • Skibo

    First of all this is not the latest poll to be carried out, but the latest to be published. It was carried out from 12th September and 22nd December. Seems a very long time to carry out a poll. The poll itself is intricate in detail and may have led to an over complicating of a simple yes or no that a border poll would be.
    I trust they have not carried out any such polls in relation to elections where we could check their accuracy?
    Their pot or respondents was 1208
    I would refer you to the Lucid Talk poll carried out in 30th November to 2nd December over three days. They have a pot of 3200 that they sent out invites to 1536 accepted and completed the poll. They reduced the results to 1080 to take into account of the balance of representation in the North.
    Lucid Talk is extremely accurate as can be seen from their polls carried for the elections.
    Lucid talk gave two options of UK v reunification and qualified it with Brexit.
    In the event that the UK leaves the EU, there is a 44.4% vote for a United Ireland. Add to that the fact that 32.8% of Unionists would have preferred the UK to stay within the EU.
    https://lucidtalk.co.uk/images/News/LTDec16TrackerPollResults-GeneralRpt.pdf

  • Mark Petticrew

    I get that, through a variety of options, one can learn more about the nuances of the electorate here, but such nuances would matter little in a border poll; it being a straight choice between maintaining the union or uniting Ireland.

    My preference, therefore, would be for opinion polling on the constitutional question to replicate how an actual constitutional referendum would be performed, so as to garner a better understanding of how people would respond to the specifically binary scenario of a future border poll.

    Anyhow, I guess there is value in both approaches, and so possibly asking both types of questions would be helpful, as done in the aforementioned 2015 B&A poll; that way we can get a feel for people’s thoughts on devolution, joint authority or direct rule, whilst also learning of how people fare in binary border poll-like scenarios.

  • Mark Petticrew

    The only opinion polling that I’m aware of on joint authority is LucidTalk polling carried out this year; a February poll placing support for it at 17%, before rising to 22% in an April one.

    In both of these polls, the options alongside of joint authority for respondents to choose from were devolution, a temporary period of direct rule, and permanent direct rule.

  • Factorygirl

    I wasn’t sufficiently motivated to vote in the previous 3 general elections. If the SDLP or Alliance, or in fact any other party, had been closest to unseating the DUP in 2015, I still wouldn’t have voted as I’m pragmatic enough to realise that Nigel Dodds losing his seat would make no material difference to me whatsoever. With respect, I know what my motivation was to turn out in the last two elections: when the declaration is made at Balmoral I’m spared the annoyance of seeing someone who has participated in or has approved of a murder campaign making out they’re Ghandi or Martin Luther King.

  • anglo-irish

    There’s a saying particularly apt to NI – “don’t judge a people by the idiots they elect”. We all know about Themmuns politics.

  • Sharpie

    I am a former SDLP voter. I am a middle-class lapsed Catholic who is excited on an international level by the falling apart of the left / right political stereotypes. SDLP is well meaning and many of their politicians are capable however….

    Ireland has changed, north and south. the greatest changes have been in social attitudes and prosperity. Northern Irelands is a conservative society who is playing catch-up with the rest of the island (more so than with increasingly nationalistic GB). NI has this bizarre thing that happens – nearly everyone in Northern Ireland has either studied or lived abroad, or has at least one family member living in a liberal democracy, yet the political and social conservatism of home is a thing that seems impervious to any external influence that people have experienced elsewhere. The main factor has to be the church and its on-going influence.

    In ROI they have kicked those shackles off and there are many here who have an eye in that direction. So the SDLP is caught – it is attached hugely as a relic to the old ways – social conservatism, social mobility into the middle classes, unradical positions on everything else. It sometimes looks like it wants to break free but cannot. It is becoming a party defined by that connection to the past and there will for a time be a continuing (but declining) audience for it.

    As for the United Ireland – there is nothing to vote for or against yet. People like the idea but with little prospect of it happening – there is zero idea of what it means so people will stick with the status quo. If there was an actual vote then it would harden up the positions as there would be enforced clarity around what it is or isn’t.

    It isn’t a binary decision until the polling day – until then its a place on a continuum or a spectrum of opinions from definitely not (some people) to yes to whatever it means (a few people). Most people are in between and I’d say the trend is moving in the direction of unification – no one knows at what pace or with what gravity.

  • anglo-irish

    Who knows? But SF will not lead NI into a UI – for that, you need consensus, and a pan-nationalist front which SF cannot deliver alone.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    He would have had more of a point had he not tried to set up Harry Enfield as a chief terroriser of the working class, if anything there are few people who portray the English middle class in such a ridiculous light as he.

    In any case, it strikes me as MOPEry, if you can show me numerous example of the Northern Irish Protestant working class being singled out for reasons OTHER than obvious questionable acts then that would be a start.

    When I first moved to the mainland we still had a reputation (just about) for being no nonsense and hard workers, it is the likes of Chittick, Bryson, Frazer and the numerous people who defend the actions of irresponsible bonfires, graffiti and (some) band parades that have sullied this reputation, not the ‘lefties’.

    If unionism could get its house in order then I think you’ll find that public glare will dim somewhat.

  • grumpy oul man

    James we have the perfect opportunity to prove you were not telling porkies about loyalist flags and wanting them all down.
    The UVF has erected flags on lampposts in a mixed area in pengally’s constituency , now she is being coy about it and some unionists are even defending her.
    Now i am sure that you are equally as angry about this as you would be about Tricolours going up in a mixed area and untimadating prods.
    So i assume you missed the thread altogether because if you had seem it then you would be comdemning it completly.
    After all im sure you were telling the truth about opposeing them all equally, at least i hope you were

  • Factorygirl

    I hadn’t heard of it but it gets a scathing review by the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2004/jul/24/highereducation.biography1
    That wouldn’t put me of reading it though. Thanks

  • SeaanUiNeill

    What you perhaps need to remember is that “Against Home Rule: The Case for the Union” was a collection of essays assembled in 1912 from Unionist and Conservative sources, Balfour contributed, the preface was by Bonar-Law, and the Introduction by Carson.

    The first essay you mention was written by George Cave, later Viscount Cave, (once described as the least distinguished Lord Chancellor of the first three decades of the twentieth century) and I can certainly think of some others of that date with far less partisan commitment who might have presented a rather more objective perception of the constitutional issue! Of course “the Greatest Empire in the World” would have been too in awe of an Irish parliament with less devolved powers than Stormont to intervene when John Redmond and the quite sizeable number of Protestant IPP MPs began to persecute the Irish Protestants to the howls of the “room tilting” protestant quarter of prospective of that parliament. And the MPs at Westminster would have been as overawed by the hundred Irish MPs to call them to account!!! And the quarter of these Irish MPs from the North West still at Westminster would be gagged by the other three quarters of the iRish contingent and ignored by their erstwhile Tory allies.

    Really!

    The second essay was by J.H. Campbell a hoary old foe of Parnell and the IPP, whose partisan interest in the matter is undisputed by any sane modern historian. Ireland was always “its own legal space”in that Irish law has always had differences from English or Scottish law, something which still applies both North and South.
    I have frequently suggested on Slugger that the Tory and Unionist rhetoric of this period was almost indescribably hyperbolic. This book of essays is a perfect example of this habit of misinformation and exaggeration. Its main interest to historians today is to offer examples of just how exaggerated a case might be assembled against Home Rule for purely party political ends. I do not remember encountering the suggestion that the utterly constitutionalist and politically innocuous IPP would actually carry out Swift’s notorious “Modest Proposal” on the Protestant young but I’d not have been surprised to encounter this in its pages.

    If you’d wish to read a genuine authoritative historical analysis of Home Rule with genuine historical perspective I can recommend Alvin’ jackson’s excellent “Home Rule”. For now I’d advise reading “Against Home Rule: The Case for the Union” with fistfuls rather than pinches of salt.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I think Mike Philips might be unconsciously going some way to prove Michael Collin’s thesis!! But at 1p on Amazon (£2.80 for post) you really can’t loose! And I think it might offer more sound ammunition for your broader point about “sniffyness” than “Chavs”, (a good book to my mind which someone lent me a while back).

  • Factorygirl

    I never said or implied there were no Prods on the political left. I stand to be corrected but I’m not aware of any left-leaning politician or commentator in GB who is in anyway sympathetic to unionism. Invariably they support Irish nationalism.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    what’s that got to do with the L&T survey findings though?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    They are regular enough surely. There’s a tendency, which is irritating for the rest of us, for those of an eager united Ireland mind to keep checking in case anything’s changed. The penny I suppose will drop eventually, or will it …

  • james

    I don’t see the need for flags in residential areas, period.

    In countries like Canada and USA, many people fly them on their properties year round – which is fine by me – and many people fly them during the World Cup or whatnot. During celebrations like the 12th, or Paddy’s day, sure (though i could do without the drunken sectarianism that some unsavour, minority elements get up to at both).Also fine by me.

    Flying flags in residential areas just seems rather stupid to me – whether IRA flags and paraphenalia or Loyalist equivalents. Disrespectful and stupid.

    Anything else I can help you with?

  • Zeno3

    That poll makes no mention of 44.4% support for UI.
    You are adding numbers that can not be added because the same people are being counted twice.

  • Trasna

    It’s a list of benefits given to all Irish citizens.

    All my points are correct.

    Equality before the law is a concept in Britain, not a principle. Who’s eligible to be head of state and PM? Who sits in the House of Lords?

    Angry, LOL. U wit ma, or again ma. So 17th century, don’t you think.

    My only thinking on NI is get as far away from the place, politically, socially and economically as possible, hence my wanting a border poll as soon as, so we can do just that. Is that so difficult for you to understand?

    Don’t know why you are accusing me of Anglo-phobia when it’s NI under discussion. Christ you don’t half self project with the rest of your nonsense.

    I don’t want anything from Catholics from NI, just a no to unity, so we can leave you lot with the job of killing each other. Don’t want my country contaminated by your filthy sectarianism.

    Is that clear enough for you?

    Hopefully I’ve debased you of your illusions.

  • Mark Petticrew

    We haven’t had any opinion polling at all on the constitutional question since December, nor any specifically binary opinion polling carried out since September, whereas Scotland has had 27 such polls produced on independence within that same 9 month period.

    To want even have a fraction of that total, say 3-4 yes-or-no opinion polls spread across certain checkpoints in the yearly calendar, I feel is a fairly reasonable desire.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Well we may differ on the extent to which poll-watching any more than annually on a united Ireland is really necessary. It’s like checking your phone all the time, bad habit that locks you into an unhealthy relationship with the phone. Meanwhile real life passes us by.

  • Factorygirl
  • Skibo

    Zeno3 look again. You can only have one choice. Add all the percentages together and you will get 100%.
    It is fair and reasonable that you can add together the people who want a reunited Ireland whether the UK is in or out of the EU. In the end, around 2019 March, the UK should be out of the EU. Question will be how many of those who wanted the North to stay within the UK with the UK staying within the EU will get itchy feet.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I agree though Mark that without consistency in the question being asked it is hard to compare results over time. The one used by Ipsos MORI has to be the standard one i.e. something like ‘if a referendum were held tomorrow, would you vote A, B, neither or don’t know’. Other questions get you other context like the degree of openness to different outcomes but you need immediacy on the voting intention one to get closest to actual likely voting behaviour – or so I understand, it’s not my specialism.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think within nationalism in particular – and I say this as an outside observer, happy to get an insider’s view from others – there is a particular need for care with the framing of polling questions on NI’s future, because of what seems to be a significant gap between ‘heart’ and ‘head’ for many sympathetic to the idea of a UI in theory.

    That gap seems relatively underexplored by analysts and commentators, but is what delivers a very comfortable majority for the Union in reality, rather than the narrow squeak which some committed united Irelanders pretend to themselves is the case.

    The hope seems to be that all Catholics so far not supporting a UI will ultimately answer the tribal call and fall into line if the Promised Land comes into view. People who want it in theory but pragmatically accept the status quo will jump at the chance to have a UI if presented to them. I’m not so sure all would. If as I suspect the main barrier in their minds is security/violence-related, given our history, my working assumption would be that no more than half of that group would be converted. Hence my seeing the realistic upper end of a pro-UI vote, even in a ‘nationalist majority’ scenario, as perhaps 40 per cent. And if a referendum were held today I’d think mid-30s at best.

  • Skibo

    MU I don’t think that is fair and reasonable as if there was a border poll, a positive result would not end up with reunification the next day. It would probably be a phased sequence. The UK is leaving the EU and it will take 2 years to negotiate the sequence and then a possible phase of five years to complete everything.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    But question is about the vote

  • Skibo

    MU the problem with the reunification project is there is no actual blueprint. If FF and FG do come up with a paper on reunification that will change. It will no longer be a matter of what will it look like. I fully expect if they can get their act together, we should be able to get further economic data to confirm how long it would take to bring the North back to profit.

  • Skibo

    I would suggest the question should be asked again after the papers have been produced by both FF and FG. This may effect the Unionist answer as SF policy is tainted with the troubles and will be rejected by most houses out of hand without even discussing, because of the messenger and not the message.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m not sure you grasp how unionists think about a UI. They don’t want it. SF hammers nails into the coffin of a United Ireland but it’s not alive for unionists anyway.

  • Zeno3

    You can’t add together people who want a UI regardless of whether Brexit happening or not to people who only want UI because of Brexit. They are the same group.
    Lucid Talk say the last two figures 24.2 and 20.2 reflect their last two polls. But Lucid Talk have never carried out a poll before that shows 44% and they have carried out polls that show support to be in and around 27%.
    I imagine if support was at 44% it would be headlines on the news but it has not even been mentioned by SF/SDLP or any other party.

  • Skibo

    Strange thing is you condemn Nationalists for viewing reunification with their heart instead of their head and you tell us that Unionism just doesn’t want it.
    As I said previously it wouldn’t matter if SF could prove that the economy would be better off within a UI as it would be SF. However if that message comes from the Irish government parties, I believe it would heard in more circles.
    Is Unionism a pragmatic thing or a rose coloured glasses thing?

  • Skibo

    Zeno3 read the options again. Option three is a United Ireland in the event of the UK leaving the EU, option 4 is for a UI regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU or not. There is no issue with adding the two together. They are not a repeat.
    44.4% for reunification in the event of the UK leaving the EU.
    25.3% for the North to stay with the UK outside the EU.
    30.1% for the North to stay with the UK inside the EU.
    The question will be how many of the 30.1% will put membership of the EU above membership of the UK.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I wasn’t condemning them for that at all. That’s how it is. Feelings of national identity is much, much more of the heart than the head for most people.

  • Skibo

    Zeno3 if you look at the previous Lucid Talk poll carried out in September, you will see that they had the overall figure at 27.78% for reunification. The breakdown shows around 78.4% Catholic and 9.5% Protestant. So I do not know where people re getting this story aboyt Nationalists not wanting a united Ireland.
    The effect of a possible Scottish independence vote rose the vote to 30.4%
    What the latest poll did was make people consider Brexit.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The L&T figures are quite odd in some areas, e.g. on Brexit voting. They over-sampled quite a bit on Remainers. Figures on identity less provably out, but look a bit odd too. And I do think the figure for a UI is on the low side actually.

  • Zeno3

    I can guarantee you are incorrect. I’m 100% certain, if you won’t accept my opinion will you accept the opinion of an actual expert? Shall we ask Peter Donaghy (Salmon Of Data)?
    The issue with adding is the last group want a UI no matter what.
    They are obviously included in the group that want one if brexit happens.

  • Zeno3

    Have you a link showing 78.4% of Catholics want a UI? Nationalists do want a UI. The problem is being Catholic does not automatically make you a Nationalist/Republican.

  • Skibo

    https://lucidtalk.co.uk/images/News/LTSeptTrackerPollResults-MainReport.pdf
    In the notes on Question 2.
    Interestingly when LT refined the sample to 18 to 24 to shows a 60/40 split UK to Reunification.
    The issue I always have with these polls is that there is no actual confirmed idea as to what reunification will look like, what the links with the rUK, the Commonwealth and the Crown would be. What the prospects of economic growth will be?

  • Skibo

    If National identity can be assured within a UI would than not be sufficient if it meant a better standard of living? There are approximately 1/4 million British residents in Ireland as it is.
    The fact of reunification would simplify the British nationality as there would be no UK and what would be left would be Great Britain.

  • Zeno3

    The previous SOS turned down a referendum based on “the Polls and Election results”.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Hmm … I don’t think that flies 🙂

  • Skibo

    MU, interesting, the GFA allows for British and Irish identity to be recognised in the North while under British rule and Nationalists should let it fly but you do not see it as acceptable for British and Irish identity to be recognised in the six counties of a united Ireland.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I wasn’t saying that at all, of course any future united Ireland would be part-British and obviously couldn’t treat Britishness in Ireland as of less validity or value than Irishness.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    There’s John Bew in the New Statesman but he is of course Northern Irish!

    There are some within the PLP who are sympathetic but very visible or vocal. There are a couple of great Labour people on twitter who hammer Corbyn repeatedly over N Ireland, but they are a minority.

    You’re dead right though, the tendency to just pour half-baked, unschooled sanctimonious vitriol on unionists is a very strong one.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not true AG, the DUP criticism is fair enough but the general tenor of comment on the left has always been to treat unionists more generally as if we were all either Orangemen, paramilitaries or Christian fundamentalists. Media report after media report alights at the 11th night bonfire preparations, the paramilitary mural or the Orange march. There is very little sense of how unrepresentative these are of unionists more generally. It’s not consciously done but it is classic ethnic othering.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    well said Factory Girl – spot on

  • MainlandUlsterman

    that does need to happen but the point is still well made that unionism in NI has long been lazily mis-portrayed outside NI with a disproportionate focus on its least appealing elements and an elision of the mainstream of unionist life and attitudes. The fact the embarrassing wing of unionism is always there is by the by – so is the embarrassing wing of nationalism but nationalism is not so persistently reduced to that in media portrayals. Have a read of Prof Brian McIlroy’s 90s review of cinema and tv on NI, “Shooting to Kill” for more of an exploration. It goes back a long way and won’t change quickly – and certainly not in this SF-DUP-axis era.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    It is simply news worthy, how could the media not report such things?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I think Cat from Red Dwarf summed it up perfectly; “if you’re gonna eat tuna expect bones”.

    The embarrassing wing of unionism is so much more vocal and universal than its nationalist opposite number.
    Furthermore, it is trailing down ‘britishness’ too, in a way Irish nationalism can’t, ergo the mainland media has a dog in this race too as it affects Britain’s reputation too, something our flag-bedecked fools either don’t realise or don’t care about.

  • Skibo

    Agreed

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “much more vocal and universal” – really? You have seen the percentage of nationalists who vote – actually *vote* – for the erstwhile political wing of a sectarian terror gang. It always sounds blandly reactionary to point out this fact, and it generally fails to evince the moral outrage it should. But let’s ask why. And that’s largely because we take that level of wrong for granted, so much so we stop noticing or even commenting on it. The shortcomings of unionists are thus digested in this bizarre vacuum, like watching a boxing match on tv in which one of the fighters has been digitally removed using green screen.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s a bit like reporting the black community in terms of hip-hop culture and knife crime though; or how Trump portrays Mexicans. It’s not that the negatives don’t exist, it’s a case of understanding how wrong – and in the china shop of NI highly dangerous – it is to dwell on a limited range of negative reference points when “analysing” a whole people.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Demographically meaning what – growth in Catholic numbers? Question is though, what kind of Catholic population is growing. The reality is it is becoming more splintered, more heterodox and a small but significant part of it actually from other parts of Europe. The demographics are quite interesting when you look more closely and have much less rosy implications for the chances of a UI than is often portrayed. But there is both a nationalist and unionist incentive for ignoring what’s really going on with demographic change.

  • Marcus Orr

    Demographically in the sense that in 1964 Westminster vote Unionists polled 63%, nationalists 21%, other (mostly old NILP, mainly pro-union) 16%, and the unionists won all the seats in NI, including West Belfast.
    This year it is 49% unionist, 41% nationalist, others 10%. If you study long-term development since say the 1960’s, you can see which way the trends are going. Just saying.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    So the next time a sun burnt topless goon with a Rangers tattoo gets water-cannoned off the top of a paddywagon whilst his mates throw projectiles at a British police force the news should just ignore it?

    The negative aspects of loyalism get off very, very lightly in the mainland media (probably due to disinterest).

    If these eejits want to be British, to stay in the UK and to profess their undying loyalty then there’s a few things they could do to show that they’re serious.

    When I first moved to Scotland in the late 90’s there was still the caveat in any Ulster criticism that said “…but the majority of people in NI are decent people…”, this has been eroded partly by not having the Provos to distract the media attention from our wrong-doings and by the creeping realisation that a lot of the ‘decent people’ won’t condemn these actions. e.g. Little-Pengelly.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “much more vocal and universal”

    yes.

    The number of times I have been in nationalist areas or republican pubs (Mr Incognito personified) without hearing ANYTHING malicious or anti unionist vs the number of times I’ve been in a unionist area where there’s always seems to be some tit trying to “eff the f*nians!!!”.

    Nationalist areas have less parades and bonfires, that is less universal and vocal.

    Nationalist areas have more arty murals than terrorist ones, in loyalist areas (from my memory) the opposite is (was?) true.

    Nationalist areas tend (on average) to have less flegs and if they do have flags they tend to be tri-colours not paramilitary flags.

    So yes, they are less vocal about it.

    I’m from an area with a nationalist majority (lots of wee unionist villages therein) and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a nationalist bonfire, only a few tri-colours at any one time, a few nationalist parades and next to no republican memorials (though I suspect there are some about the place…)

    Yet even in mixed villages or villages with slight nationalist majorities I will see numerous loyalist and orange parades and all manner of flags, paramilitary or otherwise.

    My word, Kilrea is overwhelmingly nationalist and still loyalists saw fit to attack John Dallat MLA last week during a parade there.

    Unfortunately for us SF have learned to behave in front of the camera.

    Unionists on the other hand wheel out the likes of Chittick, Frazer and Bryson (though Bryson is smartening up very rapidly and is in a different league from the other two) and prefer to be seen as defiant and indignant.

    If more people vote for a party that has a shameful past rather than vote for ‘moral’ pro-union parties (in an era where allegedly nationalists are ok with the union) then surely this is symptomatic of the failings of these ‘moral’ pro-union parties rather than thinly-concealed malignancy within the nominally nationalist voter’.

    Case in point, the Little-Pengelly post.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Btw, I do acknowledge that you have greater empathy for the unionist working class, I’m admittedly cold and clinical when it comes to what I perceive as impediments to unionism and often ignore emotions and feelings…

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not denying the openness of some Prods when it comes to expressing sectarian animus or any of what you’re saying and yet we have the SF vote. Even if we were to take the most charitable possible view of people voting SF post-1998 – which is itself a Swiss cheese of holes as a proposition – there was a substantial vote at the height of the horrors (10-15 per cent). Culturally clearly the two communities express sectarian animus in very different ways. Neither is excusable. But I’m not sure I think the disciplined If anything there’s an even more dangerous level of self-delusion in it, precisely because adherents so convince themselves – and through that apparent sincerity, others –

  • MainlandUlsterman

    But they haven’t shifted as much as those figures suggest. Nationalist population was not far off 40 per cent in the 60s but tended to vote much less, and Westminster constituencies meant unionists were over-represented. What has happened since has been a gradual adjustment to what should have been the case before. People also tend to forget about Alliance, which a lot of unionists like me and my parents back in the day actually support and which is all about making NI work, not a UI. Real pro-Union vote probably in mid-50s, nationalist vote in mid-40s. It was a shift from 60/40 approx to 55/45 approx that happened in the 70s-early 90s but it’s actually not changing so much any more in that way. Whole new ball game is the breakdown of the old blocks, younger generations think differently – some of them anyway. The old certainties are gone. That is a new challenge for nationalism; unionists are more used to not taking things for granted.

  • Factorygirl

    Presumably the main purpose of such a paper would be to show that reunification was viable- otherwise there would be no point producing it in the first place- and so in that sense it would ultimately be trying win over those who don’t want a UI.

    What do you think the reaction from nationalists would be if the Tories or Labour came up with a similar paper on how to change the minds of those who want NI to leave the UK? Or one that made the political and economic case for the South to rejoin it?

  • Skibo

    I was going to address you as FG, is it just a coincidence that it stands for the Unionist party in the South?
    I believe the only economic paper produced so far confirm that reunification is viable. I believe that bridge is crossed.
    What we need to address is what the new Ireland will look like. How will health be addressed. How will the rights of 800,000 British citizens be addressed. What will be the best democratic fit, one parliament, two parliaments or possibly one parliament with four super councils, one for each province.
    That would only be the start. How would they go about correcting the east west divide in both the North and South. The list goes on but it would be the perfect time to address such issues.

  • Factorygirl

    The Point I was making was this: is it right to expect southern parties to advocate for Irish unity while expecting British parties to be impartial on the issue?

  • Skibo

    At the moment the British Government is far from impartial and has constantly said that they want to protect the Union, well they do when Scottish independence is mentioned.
    If you read the GFA, it says the unification of Ireland is for the people of Ireland to decide, not the British people.

  • Factorygirl

    Yes, both parties openly support union with Scotland. And FG and FF support a UI. So Scottish unionists have support from outside their jurisdiction, and Irish nationalists in the North have similar support from outside their jurisdiction. Unionists in the North stand alone in advocating their position.

    My point still stands: is it right to expect southern parties to advocate for Irish unity while expecting British parties to be impartial on the issue?

  • Skibo

    Answer is yes.
    Please see the section from the GFA that the British Government is a co guarantor of:
    “(ii) recognise that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland;”
    Without external impediment. That includes anyone that is not part of the island of Ireland.
    As for the southern parties supporting reunification, I would not count what has gone before as support. perhaps if they can produce their papers on reunification, we will have something to gauge that support by.

  • Factorygirl

    Fair enough- to a point- but I think the parts of the GFA you’ve quoted set out the criteria used for changing NI’s constitutional position ie. it is for the electorate in NI to decide if they want to leave the UK and join a UI, and it is for the electorate in the South to decide if they support the latter. As far as I’m aware Southern political parties are not prevented from acting as advocates for reunification yet it is deemed unacceptable by nationalists that British political parties . In fact Sinn Fein wants the British government to play the role of persuader

  • Skibo

    It is not just SF that deem interference by the British Government (BG) in the formation of a united Ireland (UI), it is the GFA.
    It is in the interest of the BG to help to facilitate a UI as it would reduce their costs and help form an even closer relationship with their nearest neighbour.

  • Factorygirl

    As I’ve said, to act as a persuader is not being impartial. Impartial means not to show favour. It seems the BG are allowed to interfere as long as they’re showing favour for a UI but otherwise they must act impartially. It’s the unjust anomaly, and the failure to acknowledge it by those demanding ‘equality’, that I find noteworthy.

  • Skibo

    Okay no problem, we will leave it to the people who live on the island of Ireland then and not ask the BG to persuade the Unionists of the benefits of a UI.
    We will have to bring them in, in the end as in the event of a UI, there would be a transition phase where the BG would be involved. They may want to clarify what they believe would be their responsibility in the event of a positive vote.

  • Factorygirl

    “…during the troubles the IRA did carry out several terrible sectarian attacks…”

    Interesting use of the word ‘several’. Some would say their whole armed struggle was one long sectarian murder campaign; you clearly would not.

    Here’s several from one day alone. Five Protestant civilians murdered by the IRA. I’ve referenced the CAIN website in case you want to browse the next thirty years.

    27 June 1970
    Kincaid, William (28) Protestant
    Status: Civilian (Civ), Killed by: Irish Republican Army.
    Shot during street disturbances, Disraeli Street, off
    Crumlin Road, Belfast.

    27 June 1970
    Loughins, Daniel (32) Protestant
    Status: Civilian (Civ), Killed by: Irish Republican Army.
    Shot during street disturbances, Palmer Street, off Crumlin
    Road, Belfast.

    27 June 1970
    Gould, Alexander (18) Protestant
    Status: Civilian (Civ), Killed by: Irish Republican Army.
    Shot during street disturbances, Disraeli Street, off
    Crumlin Road, Belfast.

    27 June 1970
    Neill, Robert (38) Protestant
    Status: Civilian (Civ), Killed by: Irish Republican Army
    Shot during street disturbances, at the junction of Central
    Street and Newtownards Road, Belfast.

    27 June 1970
    McCurrie, James (34) Protestant
    Status: Civilian (Civ), Killed by: Irish Republican Army.
    Shot during street disturbances, Beechfield Street, Short
    Strand, Belfast.

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/sutton/chron/1970.html

  • grumpy oul man

    And we are all aware that the IRA done terrible things , Yet here we are in a time when unionists are erecting flags glorifying sectarian killers who are closely linked to the biggest unionist party and involved in criminality.
    and “during Street disturbances ” i am from the Crumlin rd and those street disturbances were loyalist mob attacks on the Ardoyne and the short strand, the people killed were attempting to burn houses and kill people.
    any death is a bad thing but you can hardly call opposing mobs attempting to kill people, sectarian murder .
    maybe you could look a bit closer into any incident before you label it.