A cross-border survey carried out for Prime Time and BBC NI’s Nolan Live for a unique co-production has found that just over one third of people surveyed in the Republic (36%) would like to see a United Ireland in the “short-medium term”. Just over 2,000 face to face interviews were carried for the survey, 1,029 in the Republic and 1,012 in Northern Ireland.
The survey, conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes between 2 and 16 October on both sides of the border, also showed that just over a quarter of the respondents – 27% - surveyed from a Catholic background in Northern Ireland would choose a United Ireland in the short-medium term. Just over half of Catholics surveyed chose UK options ie Direct Rule or Devolution.
Respondents were also asked if they would like to see a “United Ireland in their lifetime” and the results were markedly different with 66% of respondents in the Republic and 30% in Northern Ireland answering “Yes”.
Among those surveyed in Northern Ireland from a Catholic background, 57% answered “Yes” and 29% answered “Don’t know”.
The survey also asked respondents if their support for a United Ireland would be affected if it resulted in tax changes. 31% of people questioned for the survey in the Republic said they would be in favour of a United Ireland if it meant paying more tax, less than half the number (66%) who had said they would like to see a United Ireland “in their lifetime”. 73% said they would be in favour if it meant paying less tax and 63% if it meant no change in tax.
The survey also looked at attitudes to different social issues and found broadly similar attitudes on both sides of the border:
67% of respondents in the Republic said they would be very or fairly comfortable with a member of their family marrying someone of the same sex – a bit higher than the 62% who voted Yes in the referendum earlier this year. In Northern Ireland the figure was 64%.
83% of respondents in the Republic said they would be very or fairly comfortable with a member of their family marrying someone with a different skin colour compared to 86% in Northern Ireland.
79% of respondents in the Republic said they would be very or fairly comfortable with a member of their family marrying someone from a different religious background compared to 84% in Northern Ireland.
When asked about abortion, results on both sides of the border were also similar. 22% of respondents in the Republic and 23% in Northern Ireland said abortion should be available in all circumstances. 64% of those surveyed in the Republic and 56% in Northern Ireland said it should be
available in some circumstances and 14% in the Republic and 20% in Northern Ireland said abortion should never be available.
The survey also looked at how well people know each other, asking if people had experienced either a day-trip or an overnight stay across the border and it seems more people from Northern Ireland have travelled south than people from the Republic have travelled north.
The survey marks the beginning of RTE’s commemoration of the 1916 Rising and so respondents were asked about the role played by different groups of people in the history of this island.
Almost three quarters of those surveyed in the Republic believe that the 1916 Leaders played a very or fairly positive role in our history compared to only 25% in Northern Ireland. But the proportion of “Don’t Knows” north of the border was very high at 39%
Just over a quarter – 26% - of those surveyed in the Republic believe the role played by the Queen and her family was either fairly or very positive compared to 45% of those surveyed in Northern Ireland and indeed, more in the Republic believe their role has been either fairly or very negative -34% - rather than positive.
Respondents were also asked about the Catholic Church: more people in the Republic – over a third (37%) - felt the church had played a very or fairly positive role compared to a quarter in Northern Ireland. However more of those surveyed in the Republic – 31% - also think that the Church has played a fairly or very negative role in the history of the island compared with 25% in Northern Ireland.
It seems that people who live on the island as a whole have a positive outlook: 88% in the Republic and 84% in Northern Ireland feel either very or fairly satisfied with their life as a whole...
...but more people in the Republic – 77% - said they were satisfied with their love life compared to 66% in Northern Ireland. . . but almost 4 times as many people in Northern Ireland answered don’t know!