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More than half of people in North want referendum on a united Ireland

Half of people in Scotland also want an independence referendum, according to a new opinion poll.

Image: PA

JUST OVER HALF of people in Northern Ireland want a referendum on Irish unity in the next five years, according to a new opinion poll.

The Sunday Times commissioned polls in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales to gauge people’s views on the future of the United Kingdom.

In Northern Ireland, 47% of people surveyed want to remain in the UK, while 42% of people are in favour of a united Ireland and 11% are undecided.

When asked if they supported a border poll being held in the next five years, 51% said yes and 44% said no.

Among people under the age of 45, supporters of Irish reunification lead by 47% to 46%.

More people in Northern Ireland also think there will be a united Ireland within 10 years, by a margin of 48% to 44%.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster today said a border poll on a united Ireland would be “absolutely reckless”.

The DUP leader also said it is “very disappointing” to see some nationalist parties across the UK talk about constitutional politics during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking on Sky News this morning, Foster said: “We all know how divisive a border poll would be. For us in Northern Ireland, what we have to do is all come together to fight against Covid and not be distracted by what would be absolutely reckless at this time.”

However, she said she is not against having a conversation about a poll.

“It is not that I’m dead against it,” she said.

“I can argue for the United Kingdom every day of the week because the arguments are rational, logical and they will win through.

“Nobody is suggesting, not even this poll is suggesting, that we would lose if there was a border poll. But it would be incredibly divisive.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said there is an “unstoppable” conversation under way on the future of Northern Ireland.

The Sinn Féin politician tweeted: “Over 50% of people here support a referendum on unity in the next five years. There is an unstoppable conversation under way on our constitutional future.

“It is time for the Irish Government to step up preparations. We can overcome the barriers of partition and build a new Ireland.”

Scotland

Half of people in Scotland (50%) want an independence referendum – with 49% of people in favour of independence, 44% against and 7% undecided; 52% would back independence when ‘don’t knows’ are excluded.

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Voters in all four nations said they believe Scotland will leave the UK within 10 years.

Almost a third of people in Wales (31%) also want an independence referendum in their country, but just 23% of people support leaving the UK.

Post-Brexit

The findings highlight some of the difficulties facing Boris Johnson as he struggles to keep the UK together following its departure from the European Union.

With crucial elections to the Scottish Parliament coming up in May, the poll found the SNP way ahead on 70% – up seven points since the last elections in 2016 – while the Tories were down six points on 25%, with Labour down five points on 19%.

Lucidtalk polled 2,392 people in Northern Ireland aged 16 and over between 15 and 18 January.

Panelbase polled 1,206 adults in Scotland from 19 to 22 January.

YouGov polled 1,416 English adults on between 19 and 20 January, and 1,059 people in Wales aged 16 and over between 18 and 21 January.

Contains reporting from PA

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Órla Ryan

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