Today’s Irish Times/ARINS poll carried out by Ipsos B&A confirms that a strong majority of voters in the Republic of Ireland are in favour of a United Ireland.
Conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,019 eligible voters aged 18 years and upwards, the poll confirms an overwhelming majority would vote for a united Ireland if a referendum were held today. There would be 64 per cent in favour and 16 per cent against, with 13 per cent not sure, while 7 per cent say they would not vote.
The poll asked voters whether they wanted Northern Ireland to unify with the Republic of Ireland (in favour) or for Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom (against).
Most enthusiastic about a united Ireland are, not surprisingly, Sinn Féin voters, with 86 per cent in favour and only 5 per cent against. Least enthusiastic are Fine Gael voters, of whom 59 per cent are in favour and 28 per cent are against.
The desire for unity is shared across every demographic group. Voters under 25 (57 per cent in favour and 17 per cent against) and female voters (59 per cent in favour and 18 per cent against) are less positive than other cohorts.
While the over-65s are strongly in favour (62 per cent), a sizeable minority (23 per cent) would prefer Northern Ireland to remain in the UK.
Polling on the prospect of a united Ireland has consistently shown a solid majority in favour. This latest Irish Times/ARINS poll by Ipsos B&A suggests no significant change in sentiment when compared with the first poll in the series published last November.
How will sentiment change, if at all, in the years ahead?
If polling on previous referendums is indicative of how sentiment will change, the likelihood is that the gap between those in favour and those against will narrow as polling day approaches.
For example, in the 2012 Children’s Rights referendum, an Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll in October that year revealed overwhelming support for the change (58 per cent in favour and just 4 per cent against). As the day of the referendum neared, the gap narrowed significantly as both the pros and the cons of the change were debated. One month later in November, the referendum passed with 58 per cent in favour and 42 per cent against.
What has yet to happen is for the implications of a united Ireland to be fleshed out. According to the 2022 Irish Times/ARINS poll, voters would prefer to know exactly what a united Ireland will look like, including the costs and potential compromises, before they vote, rather than leave the negotiations until after the referendum.
This latest Irish Times/ARINS poll will give some indication of how these calculations may impact on voting intentions.
No doubt the cost of a united Ireland will be hotly debated and influential over the outcome. Compromises, yet to be identified, will also have to be made on flags, anthems and other symbols, as well as constitutional arrangements.
Referendums are unpredictable. Today’s poll tells us, in the race towards a united Ireland, that Republic of Ireland voters are willing to give the proposition a head start. That may prove very necessary for the proposal to have any chance after the likely costs and compromises are eventually debated.
Damian Loscher is managing director of Ipsos B&A
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