QUB Students Union held a referendum on whether there should be a United Ireland recently - on 27th October to be precise. The referendum was promoted by Sinn Féin. The referendum was opposed and boycotted by unionists. The SDLP supported it and the Alliance party, as would be expected, took a neutral stance.
The question asked was: "Should Ireland be a united and independent country?"
The results were:
In favour: 1,264 (49.6%)
Against: 1,285 (50.4%)
Students voted overwhelmingly for a separate motion:
"This Students' Union is a shared space that is inclusive for all students and should therefore have a neutral stance on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland - do you agree with this statement?"
A few observations ...
Mathematically the results are disastrous for a real border poll. Unionists allegedly boycotted the vote, but if 20% of participants were unionists who all voted against unity, then this means that non-unionists voted 5:3 in favour of unity. If this is how people voted in the real border poll, then there would not be a united Ireland until the unionist electorate was less than 25%. This was an overwhelmingly nationalist electorate - even a victory by 5% or 10% is in reality a massive defeat for unity.
Social media utterly failed ... was there even a No campaign? The QUBUnityRef twitter feed is here:
Is this the right way to go about promoting a united Ireland? Is there a QUB debating society similar to the L&H or Oxford Union - would it not be better to stage an annual or biennial debate and to invite representatives from business, sport, politics etc. to propose or oppose the motion? Imagine the publicity if, for example, you had people like Rory McIlroy addressing the debate.
To achieve Irish unity in a border poll will require substantial support from the "unionist community" - SF/SDLP voters will not deliver Irish unity. Do we need to desectarianise NI to achieve a united Ireland? Are Alliance and the Greens the real forces for Irish Unity?
Is this the end of SF's campaign for a border poll? I have never seen the point of calling for a referendum you know you are going to lose. My own opinion is that a nationalist majority in Stormont (ie. more nationalists than unionists) should trigger a border poll but there is no point in have one before then.
Any comments about the vote from QUB students?
Queen's University Students' Union stays neutral as Sinn Fein Irish unity motion fails - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk
Referenda at QUB: opinion from both campaigns |