THE RESULTS of a survey published this week have shown that 63 per cent of people in Northern Ireland believe Brexit has made a united Ireland more likely.
However, the survey also showed that 34 per cent would vote for Irish unity in a referendum, compared to 48 per cent who would opt for the status quo.
In a report outlining the survey's findings, the authors conclude that "there has been an increase in nationalist identities in Northern Ireland… and this seems to feed into changes in attitudes toward a united Ireland which are increasing".
Support for Good Friday Agreement
The results of the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey were released in a report by ARK, a joint initiative between Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University.
It reported that in the final quarter of 2021, when the survey was conducted, 63 per cent believed Irish unification was more likely as a result of Brexit — an increase of 5 percentage points on the previous year.
It also showed that if a referendum were held the following day, 34 per cent would vote for a united Ireland, up 4 percentage points on 2020.
While those who said they would vote for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK was 48 per cent, this was down 5 percentage points on the previous year.
Despite the findings, support for the Good Friday Agreement remains clear, with 65 per cent saying it is the best basis for governing Northern Ireland, either as it stands or with revisions.
The survey also revealed that 'Irish not British' is now the dominant identity with 26 per cent, up 7 percentage points in 2021.
Those identifying as 'British not Irish' stood at 21 per cent, while 16 per cent described themselves as 'Equally British and Irish'.
Elsewhere, the survey found opinions on the Northern Ireland Protocol 'show evidence of polarisation', with an increase in both those who feel it is a good thing and a bad thing for Northern Ireland.
The percentage of those who previously felt it was a 'mixed bag' had fallen from 46 per cent to 33 per cent, while those who thought it was a good thing rose from 16 per cent to 33 per cent, and those who thought it a bad thing went up from 18 per cent to 21 per cent.
In their conclusion, the authors says that while survey trends have been maintained, 'Brexit is perceived by most to have made a united Ireland more likely, including by the plurality of unionists'.
"While the predominant response remains that Brexit has made no difference to the desirability of a united Ireland, a greater proportion of respondents are becoming more in favour of it," they added.
"Despite the political contention over the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland that endured through most of 2021, public opinion on the Protocol has moved to be more in favour of it."
You can read the full report, ‘Political Attitudes in Northern Ireland after Brexit and under the Protocol’, by clicking here.