Sinn Féin would be the strongest party in a united Ireland, research shows

Just 12% of voters in Republic and 11% in North view preparations for unity referendum as a top priority

Sinn Féin would be the strongest party in a united Ireland, according to new research which assesses the attitude of voters in Northern Ireland to the parties in the Republic and vice versa.

Already the most popular party in both jurisdictions, Sinn Féin’s cross-Border presence would be a significant advantage in a united Ireland, whereas the other parties – in both North and South – would struggle to appeal to the new voters that became available to them after unification.

The research is part of the North and South series for The Irish Times and ARINS which was carried out by Ipsos in both jurisdictions last year. ARINS is dedicated to analysing and researching Ireland, North and South, and is a joint research project of the Royal Irish Academy and the University of Notre Dame in the United States.

The research finds that Sinn Féin is best placed to navigate the politics of a united Ireland, were that to happen in the future. It is the only party that resonates with voters on both sides of the Border and is well-placed to win additional support.


Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have a strong appeal to each other’s voters – but find it hard to extend that appeal. However, they are significantly less negatively viewed by Northern Sinn Féin voters than by Southern Sinn Féin voters.

The DUP attracts the strongest negative reaction from supporters of other parties in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. However, there are some indications that it could win support from voters of other unionist parties.

NI Poll Monday

Asked about the issues they believe are the most important over the next 10 years, voters in both Northern Ireland and the Republic chose housing, healthcare and the economy as the three most important issues.

The fourth priority in each jurisdiction was managing climate change, while the question of constitutional change was not a top priority for voters North or South. Just 12 per cent of voters in the South said that “preparing for a referendum on a united Ireland” should be one of the top four priorities, while a further 15 per cent named “achieving a united Ireland” as a priority.

In the North, 11 per cent named preparing for a referendum as a priority; 9 per cent nominated “achieving a united Ireland”, while 27 per cent said that “keeping Northern Ireland in the UK” should be a priority.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times