Irish unity gets ICM poll boost

by Democrat reporter

An ICM poll conducted recently for The Guardian newspaper has revealed that 41 per cent of Britons favour a united Ireland compared with just one in four (26 per cent) who feel that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom.

The poll, which has provided a major boost for pro-Irish unity forces on both sides of the Irish Sea, has left unionists wondering just when British policy will eventually catch up with public opinion.

Interestingly, given the barrage of hostile media coverage which continues to be heaped upon republicans, few of those questioned made any differentiation between them and unionists when apportioning blame for the latest crisis in the peace process.

Despite repeating what has been known, but frequently played down, for many years, the Guardian editorial will have come as a further body blow to the morale of unionists.

"Their whole world is built on the perception of themselves as UK citizens... who by some irrelevant fluke of geography happen to be located across the Irish sea. They are, in the cliché, more British than the British. They wave the flag, speak reverentially of the crown and cling to customs that vanished from the place they still think of as "the mainland" in the '50s. To enter the head offices of the Ulster Unionist Party is to see the Britain of a bygone era: portraits of the Queen Mum on the staircase. Now they hear, via an opinion poll, that the feelings are not mutual -- that most of us do not want them."

The poll was conducted before the terrible scenes of crying children and their parents running a daily gauntlet of sectarian thugs in north Belfast became headline news throughout Britain and Ireland at the beginning of September.

"If they asked the same questions today," said Connolly Association general secretary Jim Redmond, "it is certain that sympathy for unionists will have waned even further. It's now time for the British government to start persuading unionists of the benefits of Irish unity."

October/November 2001

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2002-02-04 13:34:41.
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