Stormont Assembly Buildings

Restoring the Assembly?

The Institute of Irish Studies commissioned Social Market Research (SMR) to conduct a public opinion survey on Restoring the Assembly?


The survey is based on a sample of 1074 Northern Ireland adults aged 18+. The survey was conducted using an online panel methodology with the data weighted to be demographically representative of the adult population.

The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1% at the 95% Confidence Level. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26thOctober and 3rd November 2023 and in accordance with ISO20252:2019.

Read the full results for the Restoring The Assembly Survey [PDF 0.7MB]

Executive summary

• Surveys have shown that Brexit did not have the effect that was predicted regarding growth in support for Irish unification. The share supporting that they would vote for a united Ireland tomorrow is down 5% since our last survey in June 2023. In terms of faith/no faith 60% of Catholics, 10% of Protestants and 18% of non-religious would vote for a united Ireland tomorrow.

• We find here, as before, that amongst Alliance voters, who express an opinion, there remains a c2-1 ratio with regard to remaining in the UK. However, with respect to the question ‘if the Assembly remains suspended that would encourage me to think that a United Ireland is a better option’ that ratio is reversed with 54% of Alliance voters agreeing. In effect, suspension of the Assembly is a more pronounced, compared to Brexit, factor in some voters reconsidering their constitutional position.

• With regard to the question ‘I want the Assembly to return rather than the current situation where civil servants are making decisions’ a mere 7% disagreed with 15% stating they neither agreed or disagreed. 72% agreed. With regard to identity 74% of Unionists, 81% of Nationalists and 74% of Neithers agreed.

• Regarding the question ‘without the Assembly improvements to the NHS and other public services cannot be delivered’ 72% agreed compared to 9% who disagreed. With regard to identity 68% of Unionists, 82% of Nationalists and 80% of Neithers agreed.

• 53% agreed ‘the Windsor Framework means the DUP should re-enter the Executive and the Assembly’. 13% disagreed and a significant 22% stated they neither agreed or disagreed. With regard to identity 48% of Unionists, 66% of Nationalists and 61% of Neithers agreed.

Professor Peter Shirlow, Director, Institute of Irish Studies, commented ‘yet again we evidence a society in which there is more inter-community consensus than assumed. There is evidently a section within unionism who remain intransigent regarding restoration of the Assembly before significant changes are made to the Windsor Framework. They are a minority who place their intransigence above NHS reform and public service deliver. Their actions are also encouraging pro-union people to examine a united Ireland as an option’.

Read the full results for the Restoring The Assembly Survey [PDF 0.7MB]


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