Clear majority in North and Republic support constitutional change in event of Irish unity

Voters in the Republic are divided on the question of a referendum on changes to the national flag and the national anthem

A clear majority of voters in both the Republic and Northern Ireland say that constitutional change will be necessary in the event of votes in favour of a united Ireland in the future.

But voters in the Republic are divided on the question of a referendum on changes to the national flag and the national anthem.

In the Republic, those in favour of constitutional change to accompany a united Ireland are divided between those who say that a completely new constitution should be adopted (35 per cent) and those who say that the existing Constitution should be amended (31 per cent).

But a sizeable minority (21 per cent) favour no change to the Constitution to accommodate a united Ireland, with 13 per cent saying they don’t know.


In Northern Ireland, more than half of all voters who gave an opinion (41 per cent of the total) said that a new constitution would be required, with 20 per cent in favour of amending the Constitution and just 10 per cent opposed to any change.

Almost three in ten voters (29 per cent) in the North did not give any opinion.

The opinion polls are part of the North and South series, a research collaboration between ARINS and The Irish Times that examines attitudes in both Northern Ireland and the Republic to a possible future united Ireland and related issues. ARINS, Analysing and Researching Ireland North and South, is a joint project of the Royal Irish Academy and the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame. This is the second year of the collaboration between The Irish Times and ARINS.

The simultaneous, identical polls were taken by Ipsos B&A in the Republic and Ipsos in Northern Ireland, who conducted in-home interviews with more than 1,000 voters in each jurisdiction. The margin of error in each is estimated to be +/-3.1 per cent.

Respondents were asked their views on possible referendums in a future united Ireland on changing the national flag and anthem.

In last year’s survey, voters in the South showed strong resistance to the idea of changing the Republic’s flag and anthem. However, in this year’s poll, when it was put to respondents that potential changes could be part of a process after a unity vote to decide on new flags and symbols – and that voters would have a veto on any changes in a referendum – they are more willing to consider the changes.

Voters in the South are evenly divided three ways on the question. Just under three in 10 (29 per cent) agree with a referendum, while a similar proportion (30 per cent) say they are against it, and a further 30 per cent say that they would like to know more about the idea.

In Northern Ireland, 44 per cent agree with a referendum to decide on a new flag and anthem, with just 23 per cent disagreeing and 20 per cent want to know more about it.

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Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times