In a poll conducted last month by Trinity News, 74% of Trinity students who expressed a preference said they would vote in favour of Irish unity if a referendum were held tomorrow, though almost a quarter of students expressed uncertainty.
While 54% of total respondents indicated their support for a potential referendum, almost a quarter of respondents (24.2%) said they didn’t know how they would vote, while 16.5% would vote against, and 3% would not cast a ballot.
Despite a dominant majority of decided voters in favour, it remains difficult to say whether a long-term policy referendum for Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) to campaign for Irish unity would pass.
Though we can say with 95% confidence that at least 70% of decided students favour Irish unity, this may not translate to the same level of support for committing the union to a long-term policy of support for reunification.
A motion to bring this to referendum was brought to TCDSU Council last month, where some members argued that though they supported a united Ireland, committing the union to blind support for unity could be “dangerous”.
Likewise, a long-term policy requires a 60% threshold at referendum to be adopted.
Among specific parties, support for Irish unity was predictably highest among students who said they would vote for Sinn Féin in a general election, at 75.6%, with People Before Profit–Solidarity next, at 72.29%. Together, these two groups made up a third of total respondents.
Support for Irish unity was significantly lower among other broadly left-wing parties, sinking to 48.6% among Labour supporters, and just 40% among Greens. Support for the Social Democrats, the most popular party overall, correlated 55.9% with support for Irish unity.
However, uncertainty was greatest among these parties, hovering around 30% for each, twice the proportion of “don’t knows” among Sinn Féin voters (14.%). This indicates that Irish unity is not a priority for many centre-left students, or that they do not give it much consideration.
An equal proportion of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil supporters said they would vote in favour of Irish unity, at 43.5% and 42.9% respectively, while these groups were also the most likely to vote against the referendum (34.8% and 35.7%).