DUBLIN — People in Northern Ireland are more likely to identify with either Britain or Ireland since the 2016 British vote to leave the European Union, going by the latest annual Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey.
A majority of the region’s 1.8 million people view themselves as either “nationalist” or “unionist” in the latest survey, which saw 1,200 people canvassed in late 2019 and early 2020 by researchers from Ulster University and Queens University Belfast (QUB). In 2018, half of those surveyed eschewed identifying as either nationalist or unionist.
Paula Devine of QUB said “it is striking that 2019 also saw a strengthening of unionist and nationalist identities and growing pressure on the so-called middle ground.”
Nationalists want Northern Ireland to merge with the Republic of Ireland while unionists want to remain under British rule.
Though a third of those surveyed regard themselves as ethnically Irish, only a quarter said they would back Northern Ireland’s incorporation into an all-Ireland state governed from Dublin – an outcome that four out of ten people think has nonetheless become more likely since Britain’s departure from the EU.
More than half of those surveyed see themselves as British and would vote against a “United Ireland.”
A 1998 internationally-backed peace deal – known as the Good Friday Agreement – largely put an end to three decades of political violence in Northern Ireland.
A local parliament and executive with limited powers were set up in Belfast, while Dublin was given a bigger say in the region’s affairs after it dropped a long-standing territorial claim.Show