Poll: Almost half in Ireland fear hard border from Brexit chaos

Nathanael Williams

With instability still being felt in Northern Ireland, people in the South fear hard Brexit will result in hard border

ALMOST HALF of voters in a new Irish survey say they expect there to be a hard border between the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Northern Ireland.

The poll of over 1,000 people, commissioned by Ireland’s polling company Red C, also showed stable support for the EU and for the united front against a hard negotiating position by the UK.

Almost half, 49 per cent of voters, said that they expected Brexit to lead to a return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. More women – 59 per cent – think the UK’s decision to exit will cause a return to a hard border compared to 39 per cent of men.

A significant majority of Irish people stated that they wished to remain in the EU with 88 per cent of respondents agreeing with the statement “Ireland should remain part of the EU.”

Released a day after citizens in multiple nations across Europe marked ‘Europe Day’ on Tuesday (9 May), the poll found record low support for Ireland leaving the EU.

The poll has followed weeks of uncertainty in Northern Ireland, where a powersharing agreement still has not been released between nationalists Sinn Fein and unionist party the DUP.

Almost half, around 49 per cent of voters, said that they expected Brexit to lead to a return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. 

Noelle O Connell, the executive director for the European Movement in Ireland, welcomed the poll as indicating undiminished Irish support for EU membership, regardless of the UK’s vote to leave the EU last summer.

O Connell said: “This is a timely ‘Europe Day’ poll on Irish attitudes to EU membership as we approach the UK general election and the anniversary of Brexit.  Since EM Ireland began its Red C tracking poll in 2013, far fewer people believe that Ireland should follow the UK out of the EU. Brexit has created uncertainty, but Irish people are steadfast in supporting continued EU membership.”

Asked if they agreed with the statement “Given that the UK has voted to leave the EU, Ireland should also leave the EU”, just 16 per cent said they agreed.

When they were asked if they agree that “taking everything into consideration, Ireland has on balance benefitted from being a member of the EU”, 87 per cent of voters say they agree.

A joint military aspect of European co-operation also received strong support, though notably less than supported the EU in general. Asked if they agreed with the statement “Ireland should be part of increased EU defence and security co-operation” just over half (57 per cent) said they agreed.

Support for continued EU membership has remained quite stable year-on-year, Red C notes, with an overwhelming majority of close to 90 per cent continually supporting Ireland’s place in the union.

Picture courtesy of Adamina

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