EM IRELAND/RED C POLL 2018 | People divided on possible impact of Brexit on Irish unity

 EM Ireland / Red C Poll show even split in opinion on whether Brexit makes a united Ireland more likely

Dublin, 8 May 2018: The majority of Irish people believe Brexit is a mistake, but just 44 per cent think that it makes a united Ireland more likely, according to a recent European Movement Ireland (EM Ireland) / Red C poll. For the first time support for Ireland remaining in the EU has jumped to over 90 per cent, with 92 per cent agreeing that Ireland should remain part of the EU.  The annual survey of Irish attitudes to the EU also indicates growing support for Irish involvement in increased EU defence and security cooperation.

Opinion on the implications of Brexit for a united Ireland is split. 44 per cent agree and 44 per cent disagree that it makes a united Ireland more likely with 12 per cent saying they don’t know. Those under 35 years of age (54 per cent) are most inclined to say that Brexit makes a united Ireland more likely, while in the over 35s category only 39 per cent agree that it is more likely. When asked about the UK government’s red lines in the Brexit negotiations on leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union, 73 per cent of people in Ireland said that the UK should remain in both, rising to 83 per cent amongst farmers.

Commenting on the findings, Noelle O Connell, Executive Director of EM Ireland says: “People are very clear that leaving the EU would not be in Ireland’s interests.  However, there is understandable uncertainty about what changes Brexit will bring to Ireland, the border and the Ireland-UK trade relationship in the long term.”

Only 11 per cent of respondents think that Ireland should leave the EU, given the UK have voted to leave. This shows a dramatic decline from 2013 when support for Ireland leaving the EU in the event of Brexit was at 30 per cent.

“Contrary to recent claims, at 92 per cent support for Ireland’s membership of the EU remains strong; in fact it is at an all-time high since we first undertook this poll in 2013,” continues Noelle O Connell.

On the issue of defence and neutrality, a majority (59 per cent) agree Ireland should be part of increased EU defence and security cooperation. This shows an increase of 2 per cent since April 2017, before Ireland signed up to PESCO.

Noelle O Connell comments: “The increase in the number of don’t knows from 3 per cent in 2017 to 8 per cent in 2018 suggests that there is a need for increased public awareness around PESCO and other elements of security cooperation. This reflects what we heard from people during our recent series of nationwide Citizens’ Dialogues on the Future of Europe.”

The full findings are available at http://bit.ly/EMIRedCResults2018




Press Queries:  Sharon Waters, Communications Manager

T: 01 662 5815    M: 085 133 2502 E: sharon@europeanmovement.ie

EM Ireland’s Executive Director, Noelle O Connell is available for interview and comment.  Contact Sharon Waters at 085 133 2502



Findings in summary:

92%        agree that Ireland should remain a part of the EU, with support greatest in Dublin (96%) and amongst 18-24 year olds (97%)

87%        agree that taking everything into consideration, Ireland has on balance benefited from being a member of the EU

58%        agree that Ireland should contribute more to the EU budget to continue to get these benefits

59%        agree Ireland should be part of increased EU defence and security co-operation, with 62% of men and 56% of women agreeing. Support is highest amongst 25-34 year olds (67%) and in Dublin (66%). Support is lowest in Connaught/Ulster (52%)

11%        agree that given that the UK has voted to leave the EU, Ireland should also leave the EU with support for leaving the EU lowest in Dublin at 7%

92%        agree that it is important that Irish people to input into the Future of Europe debate on the future development of the EU

73%        agree the UK should stay in the EU Single Market and the EU Customs Union with 83% of farmers agreeing.

44%        agree that the vote by the UK for Brexit makes a united Ireland more likely, 44% disagree and 12% don’t know. People aged 18-24 years are most inclined to say that a united Ireland is likely.


  • Methodology: the poll was carried out by Red C between the 15th – 21st March 2018.  A random sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ were interviewed by telephone.
  • About European Movement Ireland: Founded in 1954, European Movement (EM) Ireland is the longest established Irish NGO working on European affairs.  An independent, not-for-profit, membership organisation, EM Ireland works to develop the connection between Ireland and the European Union.  We facilitate links between all sectors of Irish society and the EU, through advocacy campaigns, education programmes, training courses, information briefings and networking events.  For more information, visit europeanmovement.ie.

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