Northern Ireland will leave UK within 25 years, say majority of people on both sides of border

Tony Diver
·2-min read
Loyalists burn bins and furniture during a protest on Lanark Way, near the 'Peace Gate' in Belfast - Conor Mccaughley/Anadolu Agency 
Loyalists burn bins and furniture during a protest on Lanark Way, near the 'Peace Gate' in Belfast - Conor Mccaughley/Anadolu Agency

A majority of people on both sides of the Irish border believe Northern Ireland will leave the UK within 25 years, a new poll has found.

Just shy of half of respondents in the North would vote to remain in the UK if there was a poll tomorrow, with 43 per cent backing a united Ireland and eight per cent reporting that they have not yet decided.

In the Republic, 51 per cent said they would vote for a united Ireland, 27 per cent would vote to keep the United Kingdom together and 22 per cent were unsure.

The majority of people polled by the BBC said they believed the union would be intact in a decade, but not in 25 years.

The new figures came after Boris Johnson declared himself a “proud unionist” who was trying to “sandpaper” away “ludicrous barriers” to trade in the Irish Sea.

The centenary of Northern Ireland’s formation in 1921 is a moment to be celebrated, he said.

Only 40 per cent of people in Northern Ireland agree with him, the poll found.

Friction in the region has increased in recent weeks, with clashes taking place between protesters and police in towns and cities near the border.

Protests resumed in North Down and Antrim on Monday after a pause to commemorate the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Loyalists believe the Northern Ireland Protocol, which governs goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland now the transition period has ended, creates an unacceptable barrier to trade within the UK.

Forty-eight per cent of those surveyed in Northern Ireland want the protocol scrapped, versus 46 per cent who would retain it.

The Taoiseach, Micheal Martin, told the BBC’s Spotlight programme that the protocol was not tearing the UK apart.

Loyalists also believe police did too little to manage alleged Covid rule breaches at the funeral of Bobby Storey, a senior republican figure, in June last year.

Three quarters of those polled by the BBC in Northern Ireland said the dispute over the country’s status was unresolved and there was a potential for violence in the future.

In the Republic of Ireland, 87 per cent said the same.