Northern Ireland

More than half in Northern Ireland 'oppose border poll'

In August the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin reported a sharp rise in applications for Irish passports by people from Northern Ireland
Image caption In August, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin reported a sharp rise in applications for Irish passports by people from Northern Ireland

More than half of people in Northern Ireland do not want the government to call a border poll, according to a new survey for BBC NI's The View.

After June's referendum vote to leave the EU, politicians and observers began to consider what, if any, the implications might be for Northern Ireland's political future.

Some 56% of people in Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU.

However, across the UK a narrow majority decided to pull out.

With the UK charting its own course and the Republic of Ireland staying an enthusiastic member of the EU, would people in NI begin to reconsider their identity?

Sinn Féin called on the secretary of state to hold a border poll under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Then in August, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin reported a sharp rise in applications for Irish passports by people in Northern Ireland.

Did this represent a shift in people's allegiance or a pragmatic move to keep options open on travel and employment?

Between mid August and early September the pollsters Ipsos Mori interviewed more than 1,000 people face-to-face at locations across Northern Ireland.

Their questions for the BBC were designed to shed some light on Northern Ireland after Brexit.

Only a third (33%) of those interviewed agreed with Sinn Féin's call for a border poll, while more than half do not want one.

A further 15% did not know whether they wanted one or not.

Predictably enthusiasm for a border poll is greater amongst people with a Catholic background than those with a Protestant background.

More than half (53%) of the Catholics interviewed backed holding a border poll, whilst more than seven out of 10 of the Protestants interviewed opposed such a move (72%).

Not surprisingly, the closer people live to the border the more likely they seemed to be in favour of a referendum.

County Armagh showed the highest levels of support with 47% of those interviewed there in favour of holding a border poll, whilst Greater Belfast appears to be most sceptical with 68% of people there against the idea.

But if the government was to press ahead and call a border poll, how would you vote and has Brexit changed many people's minds?

The View is on BBC 1 at 22:45 BST on Thursday.

A panel of politicians will mull over the public's answers to these questions and consider what impact not only Brexit, but also the prospect of a future Scottish independence vote might have on the sensitive political balance here.

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