New poll shows unionists would not back Good Friday Agreement if vote held today

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A majority of unionists would vote against the Good Friday Agreement if the referendum was held today, a new opinion poll has suggested. A LucidTalk poll for the Belfast Telegraph said that only one in three unionists in Northern Ireland now endorses the agreement as the 25th anniversary of the historic peace deal nears.

The poll said that 64 percent of people in Northern Ireland would back the deal if another poll was held now.

The results showed that while 95 percent of nationalists and 96 percent of Green Party and Alliance voters would vote yes, only 35 percent of unionists said they would do the same.

The agreement, which led to the establishment of the Stormont Assembly, was backed by 71 percent of people across Northern Ireland in a referendum in 1998.

Just less than one-third of poll respondents (31 percent) said they would vote no in a referendum today, including 54 percent of unionists.

The opinion poll said that 11 percent of people do not know or are unsure how they would vote if another referendum were to be held.

The poll also suggested a majority of people across Northern Ireland believe the DUP should re-enter government at Stormont regardless of what happens in negotiations between the UK and the EU over the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.

While 60 percent of poll respondents said the DUP should go back into government, this dipped to just 21 percent among unionist respondents.

The devolved powersharing institutions are currently not operating after the DUP withdrew as part of its protest against the post-Brexit protocol.

The poll comes as talks remain ongoing between the UK and the EU over the protocol, part of the post-Brexit deal which keeps Northern Ireland aligned with some EU trade rules, effectively placing a trade border in the Irish Sea.

Both sides are keen to strike a deal to break the logjam over the contentious trading arrangements before the 25th anniversary of Northern Ireland’s historic Good Friday peace agreement in April.

Many unionists are fiercely opposed to the treaty which they claim has weakened the region’s place within the union.

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Speaking to party members and supporters in Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said that his party strategy in opposing the Northern Ireland Protocol has been vindicated.

He said that people in London, Dublin and Brussels now recognise that the “sacrifice of consensus politics on the altar of the protocol was a mistake”.

The DUP leader said: “We warned London, Washington, Dublin and Brussels in July 2021 that the Northern Ireland Protocol was incompatible with powersharing and our hard-won politically balanced arrangements.

“We gave time and space for these fundamental concerns to be addressed but that time was not utilised.

“Instead, some local parties told us that the protocol had to be ‘rigorously implemented’. No one is saying that now.

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“We are seeking the restoration of democratic decision-making to the Assembly, replacing the democratic deficit created by the protocol.

“Why should anyone want to deny the people of Northern Ireland, through their democratically elected representatives, a say or a vote on vast swathes of the laws governing our economy and which affect the people of Northern Ireland so directly?”

Sir Jeffrey said that the protocol is not and will not be supported by unionists.

The LucidTalk poll was carried out online from 1pm on January 20 to 6pm on January 23, using an opinion panel of 14,422 members across Northern Ireland. Some 3,662 full responses were received which were then authenticated, audited and weighted to a 1,499 response data-set.

LucidTalk, a member of the British Polling Council, said the results are accurate to within an error of plus/minus 2.3 percent at 95 percent confidence.