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Poll shows Irish support unification but don’t want to pay for it

Published: in 🇪🇺🇪🇺European News🇪🇺🇪🇺 by .

Financial factors loom large 100 years after partition.

DUBLIN – Citizens of the Republic of Ireland will happily take Northern Ireland off Britain’s hands – but only if they don’t have to pay the bill, a new poll reveals.  

After a century of partition, two-thirds of people in the Republic support unification of their island, according to the poll published Saturday in the Irish Independent. 

Most expect an island-wide referendum to be held on the issue in the coming decade, as envisaged in the 1998 Good Friday peace deal that followed three decades of bloodshed over Northern Ireland.   

To succeed, majorities in both parts of the island would need to support Northern Ireland’s transfer from British to Irish sovereignty.  

However, Saturday’s results show 44 percent of people in Northern Ireland want to stay in the U.K., compared to 35 percent who want to leave.  

In the south, support for unification is conditioned by who pays. Fifty-four percent of Irish Republic voters would reject unity if it hikes their tax bills, according to the survey, which was conducted by the polling firm Kantar. 

Only one in eight would vote for unity if the handover required the Republic to take on Britain’s full costs of subsidizing Northern Ireland.  

Economists have projected such costs could range from €6.7 billion to €15.7 billion annually, depending on the extent of fiscal liabilities transferred from London to Dublin under a unification deal. 

Some key living standards are higher in the north and the civil service is the territory’s biggest employer.  

Brexit has pushed the question of Irish unification high on political agendas in both parts of Ireland. 

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Most people in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU in the U.K.’s 2016 referendum. Unity would give the north, with its mix of British and Irish citizens, full EU citizenship again. 

Yet Saturday’s poll found that financial concerns were even stronger in the north. Fifty-five percent there feared they would be financially worse off outside the U.K.  

Even among northerners identifying as Irish nationalists, financial reasons are a factor for a quarter backing continued U.K. membership.  

“In the context of Mammon versus either patriotism, or loyalism, the pocket seems to be king,” the Irish Independent wrote in an accompanying editorial

The newspaper will publish more survey results ahead of Monday’s 100th anniversary of the foundation of Northern Ireland as a Protestant-majority state within the United Kingdom.

Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/poll-ireland-unification-support-costs-brexit/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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