An Irish Border Poll – learning the lessons of Brexit

Demographic changes and some recent polls have injected an air of optimism, arguably even complacency into the campaign for Irish unity to the extent that its proponents regard it as inevitable within the medium-term. A quick review of the past two years in the United Kingdom however, offers a vivid example of how major constitutional change is not a simple matter, far from it. The problem began with a referendum, posing the simple question: Should the United Kingdom remain a … Read more

How has opinion in Northern Ireland on the border question changed since the Brexit referendum?

It is perhaps ironic that, given politics in Northern Ireland has revolved around the border question since its inception, there is a significant amount of uncertainty regarding whether the people of Northern Ireland want to stay in the United Kingdom or become part of a united Ireland. There have been a number of opinion polls and surveys on the question since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, which have yielded significantly varying results on the question of support for Irish … Read more

Ashcroft Poll shows a competitive Border Poll race.

Lord Ashcroft released the results of the survey he conducted which included results of how a Border Poll, North and South would go. In the South When do people think there should be a Border Poll David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Peter Robinson was talking about much more than a border poll. The Assembly must become boycott proof

It was Peter Robinson “pulling the pin out of the grenade” and proposing  “generational” border polls that attracted most attention. But he had a good deal more to say at Queen’s that was  more important or at least more urgent.  He kept it lofty, generalised and above all brief, to avoid getting drawn into detail or appearing to lecture his successors. But his meaning is pretty clear . While he had to say he was optimistic about the future, he … Read more

A border poll will not just be about the choice between the union and a united Ireland. Any border poll will be a referendum on Northern Ireland itself

Northern Irish politics has been all about polls for the past week. According to the Times, Theresa May isn’t too confident that unionists would win a border poll. The Prime Minister is that cack-handed people worried she’d triggered a border poll by accident. She hadn’t. Then, on the 21st May, two polls by ICM and MORI were released that showed support for the union, but with caveats that should keep unionists on their toes. The prospect of a border poll … Read more

The Rorschach Test


I argued in an earlier piece that the word “Unionism” should be handled with extreme care, because it has become overloaded with far too many overlapping yet inconsistent meanings. For slightly different reasons, we should also avoid using the phrase “United Ireland”. “Unionism” refers to a collection of existing things that can, with effort, be distinguished from each other. “United Ireland”, or its modern euphemism “New Ireland”, means nothing much at all, because it refers to a hypothetical something that … Read more

May tells Rees Mogg: with a hard border I’d not be confident of winning a border poll

Times report Theresa May confronted Jacob Rees-Mogg at a meeting with Tory MPs designed to break the deadlock over Britain’s future customs arrangements with the EU, The Times has learnt. The pair clashed yesterday over the impact of rival plans on the Irish border, in what witnesses described as the prime minister “sending a tough signal” to hardline Brexiteers that she was not prepared to jeopardise the Union. It came after Mrs May went over the heads of her squabbling cabinet with a personal … Read more

The end of the world

Sea cliffs

In the 19th century national identity in Europe was more deeply entwined with religion than it is today. Witness the creation of Belgium in 1831 from the remains of the Spanish Netherlands, when formerly Hapsburg areas seceded from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands to form a Catholic-majority, multilingual state with a French-speaking aristocracy. In the 20th century the focus of national identity shifted: the same Belgian state is now hoplessly riven between French- and Dutch-speakers, regardless of religion. The … Read more

Fianna Fail going North would be a game changer. It implies an electoral pact with Sinn Fein in a bid to out poll unionists and lead a southern coalition towards unity

Poor old SDLP! What’s the point of voting in council elections next year for a party that says it may go out of business not now but maybe later? If Fianna Fail enter the lists, it has to be big, it has to be about more than rescuing the anti- Sinn Fein tradition of northern nationalism.  It can only be to rob Sinn Fein of its role as the pacemaker for a united Ireland.  Who ought to be better placed … Read more

LucidTalk Poll on a Border Poll & Irish Unity

Lucid Talk released a poll on Irish Unity and a Border Poll this morning. You can listen to the results here on U105 The poll found that more than 60% of respondents thought a poll should be held within the next 10 years. One of the more interesting findings was that 56% of the 18-44 year old respondents said they would vote Yes in a potential referendum. Overall around 55% of respondents favour Northern Ireland staying within the UK.   … Read more

Latest findings on a border poll

From the British- Irish Parliamentary assembly meeting in Liverpool, as reported in the Sunday Times (£) Both Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland who tend not to vote — in either Westminster or assembly elections — would reject a united Ireland in the event of a poll, according to research presented to Irish and British politicians. “Non-voters” would be decisive in a border poll because they are likely to come out in record numbers, according to an analysis by Liverpool … Read more

Time for unity among those advocating Unity

Matt Carthy is a Sinn Fein MEP for the Ireland Midlands-North West constituency  Something big is happening. Brexit has simply accelerated a debate on Irish Unity that was inevitably going to happen anyway. Irish Unity featured during the recent Westminster election campaign in a way in which it hasn’t in living memory. That is simply a reflection of what is occurring in communities, within civic society and among members and supporters of all the main political parties North & South … Read more

Colum Eastwood argues for a Border Poll after Brexit process

At the SDLP manifesto launch, Colum Eastwood was asked by the Irish News Political Correspondent, John Manley about a border poll and here is how he responded; I want a border poll, we’ve just made it a lot more winnable, because of the work that Mark and our MPs did in Westminster with David Davis. The work that we did in negotiations  when we were talking about lots of different things, we were talking to the British Secretary of State … Read more

Brokenshire’s line on a border poll won’t do. Straight after next week’s election, it will be incumbent to spell out terms and conditions for holding a unity referendum. And Dublin cannot be left out

In their manifesto,  the SDLP have now joined Sinn Fein in calling for a unity referendum, albeit on slightly different terms. Both are linking it to Brexit. If the combined nationalist share of the vote next week reaches 40+% which is highly manageable, can a unity referendum or border poll, reasonably be denied?  If not, what is reasonable?  By one reckoning a 50% threshold would seem unreasonably high for our divided community. By another, a referendum should wait until nationalists have … Read more

If no one wants a hard border, who on earth is going to give us one?

Hard to know which of Newton Emerson’s Thursday columns to blog each week, but I think the one in the Irish News carries a couple of important points that some have been (deliberately?) blinding themselves to. First, he points out that there is no party integral to these talks who wants a hard border of the sort being hyped at the moment: At the end of last week, the prospect of a hard border in Ireland suddenly receded, with the European Parliament and Council … Read more

The political capital of asking for what you will not get…

Brexit has led to increasing demands for IndyRef2 and an NI border poll, and on principle, the British Government has not exactly been slow to rule them out.  Nicola Sturgeon is making the case that Brexit is changing the opinion of a large number of people in Scotland [A major change of circumstances? – Ed] and Sinn Fein have made a similar case. However, all of this is apparently for nothing, because James Brokenshire has to be persuaded that the … Read more

A United Ireland is not inevitable – here is why

There has been much recent discussion about a border poll & the “inevitable” move towards a United Ireland yet there has been scant detail. Nationalist politicians have cited the economic benefits of an all island economy but looking at the lastest statistics from the Department for the Economy I find that 86% of all Northern Ireland sales are with Northern Ireland & Great Britain. If we exclude internal Northern Ireland trade we find that sales to the rest of the … Read more

Observe the sons of Ulster, marching towards the bin

It was the best of campaigns, it was the worst of campaigns. Arlene’s decision to meet the three letter problem of RHI with the three letter solution of IRA worked masterfully in terms of holding the DUP’s vote together; despite three months of unremitting negative publicity and a collapsed government, DUP losses were kept to just 1.1%, with the drop in seats not much worse than the five likely to go with the shrinking of the Assembly. The DUP actually … Read more

A border poll can be held at any time

There’s widespread misunderstanding of the legal provision around holding a border poll which seems to rear its head not only on social media, but sometimes within the print media and even among the ranks of senior politicians. It’s an innocent enough situation, but it could become important in the period ahead as we start coming to terms with brexit and Northern Ireland’s relationship with Europe. The misunderstanding holds that, following the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, a border poll cannot be held unless there … Read more

The View poll suggests link between Brexit and demand for Border Poll is febrile (at best)…

One thing to understand about Northern Ireland is that we don’t do really polls, we still mostly do elections. As far as the constant feedback loop, it’s the land that time forgot. There are so few outlets who can afford real out in the field polling that it rarely happens. Tonight, yet again, the BBC stepped into the breach and tested the climate in the post-Brexit era regarding the business of having a Border Poll. So let’s get to the main theme … Read more