It's the Way Ahead; the Agreement: Joint News Letter/Irish News Survey the Agreement: Joint News Letter/Irish News Survey

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), May 18, 1998 | Go to article overview

It's the Way Ahead; the Agreement: Joint News Letter/Irish News Survey the Agreement: Joint News Letter/Irish News Survey


YOUNG ADULTS who have never known anything but violence in Northern Ireland will be backing the Agreement at a rate of two to one, according to an independent study jointly commissioned by the News Letter and Irish News.

Of those who have made up their minds and are likely to vote, 66 per cent will be saying Yes.

But the survey reveals a significant level of indecision among the Province's youngest voters, particularly among Protestants of whom nearly a third have yet to make up their minds.

The survey, carried out by Ulster Marketing Surveys among 601 young people, and accurately reflecting the religious breakdown, reveals sharp divisions among Protestants and Catholics over many aspects of the Good Friday deal, though a majority believe that it provides the best way forward.

In general, young Catholics are much more supportive of the deal.

While only 25 per cent of Protestants are definitely saying Yes, the figure among Catholics is 75 per cent. Young Protestants are more convinced that the Agreement is a step towards a United Ireland than are their Catholic counterparts.

Overall, 31 per cent (28 per cent of Protestants and 36 per cent of Catholics) believe that the Agreement secures Northern Ireland's position as a part of the UK, while 56 per cent (63 per cent of Protestants and 47 per cent of Catholics) believe it is a step towards a United Ireland.

Asked whether they believed the Agreement represents the best way forward for the people of Northern Ireland, 66 per cent did not disagree although only 15 per cent strongly agree that it is.

Again the figures show a split in attitudes according to religion, with 41 per cent of Protestants disagreeing that it is the best way forward and only four per cent of Catholics taking the same view. A majority on both sides is cynical about the ceasefires, and neither of the young communities expects decomissioning to take place within two years, in line with the Agreement proposals, although there is general agreement that it is an important issue. …

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