A large majority of voters favour a united Ireland in the long term, but are opposed to a new national flag, a new national anthem, paying higher taxes or curtailing public spending to facilitate it, the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll has found.
Voters also say a united Ireland should be a long-term project, with only 15 per cent saying they want to see a referendum now and just 20 per cent describing it as “very important” and a “priority” for them. By contrast, 52 per cent of people say it is “not very important” to them, but they “would like to see it someday”.
The poll examined not just voting intention in a referendum on Irish unity, but also sought to probe the depth of commitment to the idea, the urgency voters attach to it and the attitude to steps which might be taken as part of a unity project.
The results suggest that support for Irish unity is broad – 62 per cent say they would vote in favour, with just 16 per cent opposed and 13 per cent saying they don’t know. Eight per cent say they would not vote.
But though broad, the support for a united Ireland is relatively lukewarm, with a majority of voters happy to see it as a long-term project to which they are well-disposed but do not attach any urgency. Nor are they willing to take steps which might persuade unionists that a united Ireland would be inclusive and reflective of their British identity.
Asked when they would like to see a referendum on unity, just 15 per cent of voters said they wanted to see it now, while 13 per cent said “never” and 16 per cent responded that they would like to see a vote more than 10 years into the future. The most popular timeline for a referendum – nominated by 42 per cent of respondents – was for a vote to take place “in the next 10 years”.
Voters were also asked how important a united Ireland was to them. Just a fifth (20 per cent) agreed it was “very important, it is a priority for me”. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) said it was “not at all important”. By far the most popular response was “not very important but I would like to see it someday” which was chosen by 52 per cent of all respondents.
Despite the party’s commitment to Irish unity, this view is also the most popular among Sinn Féin supporters, with just under half (47 per cent) of those who say they will vote for the party agreeing with it. Thirty-six per cent of Sinn Féin supporters describe a united Ireland as “very important”.
There is a high degree of resistance to measures which could accompany or facilitate a united Ireland. Asked if they would accept a new flag, 77 per cent of people said they would not; 72 per cent would not accept a new anthem and 71 per cent would not accept rejoining the Commonwealth.
There were small majorities among voters who expressed a preference on the question of closer ties to the UK (47 per cent in favour, 42 per cent opposed) and having unionists in government in Dublin (44 per cent in favour, 42 per cent opposed).
But voters also said they would not accept higher taxes (79 per cent) or less money for public services (79 per cent).
The poll was conducted among 1,200 adults at 120 sampling points across all constituencies on December 5th-8th. Respondents were interviewed at their own homes. The accuracy is estimated at plus or minus 2.8 per cent.