90% of loyalists say United Ireland’s vote risks a return to violence
Some 90% of trade unionists and loyalists fear that a united Ireland could trigger a return to violence in Northern Ireland, according to a poll.
The poll, which coincides with the centenary of the founding of Northern Ireland, found that a significant majority of people on both sides of the border believe peace will be compromised by a united Ireland.
More than 2,000 people from Northern Ireland and Ireland were asked whether they believed peace would be threatened by the prospect of unification, in a poll commissioned by Sunday Life and the Sunday Independent.
In Northern Ireland 68% of people said yes, while in Ireland the figure was 62%.
The results show that while the overwhelming majority of loyalists and trade unionists were convinced that peace would be compromised, 24% of Nationalists and Republicans in Northern Ireland and 17% of people south of the border disagreed.
A sample of 1,500 adults over 18 in Ireland and 750 in Northern Ireland were interviewed for the survey, conducted in collaboration with Kantar.
On Brexit, people were asked what effect it would have on a united Ireland, and a majority on both sides of the border – 58% in Northern Ireland and 57% in Ireland – thought it could speed unity.
Asked whether a majority of 50% plus one would suffice to vote for a united Ireland in a future border poll, 31% in Northern Ireland and 38% in Ireland agreed.
In Northern Ireland, 38% believe that a two-thirds majority is necessary, compared to 36% in the South.
Some 36% of Irish people think a 70% majority should be required in such a poll.
People on both sides of the Irish border are polarized over the controversial issue of paramilitary amnesties, according to the opinion poll.
The survey suggests that a majority of people across the island support the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission to deal with the past during the unrest.
One question asked in the survey was whether people believed that “there should be an amnesty for acts of violence committed by paramilitary groups linked to the unrest which were still under investigation”.
In Northern Ireland, only 31% of respondents agreed, while 38% opposed the decision.
The breakdown of the numbers showed that 49% of trade unionists and loyalists were against an amnesty, while 40% of nationalists and Republicans were in favor of an amnesty.
The results showed that opposition to an amnesty was stronger among older people who had experienced the worst of the turmoil than among younger people.
In Ireland, 40% of people supported an amnesty, while 26% opposed it.
Regarding an amnesty for members of the security forces, around 41% of northerners agreed, while 29% disagreed.
In Ireland, the figures were 37% for and 31% against.
People were also asked if they would support a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Northern Ireland to deal with the legacy of the unrest.
Some 64% of people north and south of the border say they are in favor of a commission and only a small number in each area oppose it.