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Poll reveals peace parties have strong support

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN – Parties backing the peace in Northern Ireland have a combined 82 percent support three weeks before the election to the new assembly, according to a new poll.

However, the Irish Times/MRBI poll reveals that 28 percent of voters have still not made up their mind who they will vote for on June 25, which may suggesting a lower turnout than the record poll for the May 22 referendum.

The poll indicates that the Ulster Unionist Party, led by David Trimble, would have its highest level of support since 1992.

The Social, Democratic Labour Party, led by John Hume would be close to its best ever figure in the European elections in 1994.

When asked about the most important issues in the campaign, 28 percent said peace and the same number said decommissioning of

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paramilitary weapons.

A total of 49 percent felt decommissioning should begin right away, with 11 percent believing the arms handover should take place before parties took their seats in the assembly executive.

The release of prisoners was rated the most important issue by 14


The core support for the parties (with net figures when the undecided were excluded) are UUP 23 (33); SDLP 20 (27); DUP 10 (13); Alliance 7 (10); Sinn Fein 6 (8); UK Unionist 2 (3); Labour 1 (2); PUP 1 (1); Women’s Coalition 1 (1) and others 1 (2).

The election will be fought using proportional representation so transfers of votes between the parties will be crucial for the final makeup of the 108-member assembly. The poll found that 43 percent had not made their mind up about a second preference.

The poll found there will be 27 percent “plumpers” – voters who will vote for just one party and stop, while 49 percent will continue with preferences down the ballot paper..

Asked if they felt the assembly would work, only 8 percent were very confident, 49 percent were fairly confident and 29 percent were not at all confident.

A total of 1,005 people throughout the 18 constituencies were interviewed by telephone by the Harris Research Centre on June 1 and 2. The margin of error is 3 percent.

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