Majority of young people think border poll is likely in next 20 years

A poll by Northern Ireland Youth Forum has revealed the vast majority of young people surveyed - 80% - think a border boll is likely in the next 20 years.

Just over 40% said they would favour reunification, while 33% said they would vote to remain in the UK. 21% of those polled were undecided.

In a study on political, social and cultural views of young people revealed exclusively to UTV, a majority of those polled - 60% - said the centenary should be marked.

Meanwhile, 44% said it should be acknowledged and a third believed it should be celebrated. Only 11% said it should be protested against and 16% said it should be ignored.

Almost 400 young people between the ages of 16 and 21 took part in the online voting this March.

The numbers were roughly evenly split between genders and denominations with just slightly more women from a Catholic/nationalist split taking part. 72% described themselves as heterosexual, 9% bisexual, 9% gay and 2% non-binary.

62% of young people surveyed felt politicians did not value their opinions and 47% said they felt politics in Northern Ireland had not changed.

In terms of what interested them most, 74% said mental health, 42% said education and 34% said the Troubles.

82% of those surveyed said they got their knowledge of the Troubles from their families, 71% from their school, 48% from TV and 40% from social media.

While there was still a knowledge of and interest in politics and the past, the issues that young people said concerned them most were social and economic.

After Covid-19 - which was their biggest concern at 82% - 80% said they were worried about finding and keeping a job, while for three quarters it was mental health and for over 70% it was personal finances and access to affordable housing.

87% said they were concerned about the future and given the opportunity, almost half our young people who relocate to live in another country.

71% said that the voting age should be reduced from 18 to 16-17, as is the case in Scotland and is soon to be the case in Wales.

Chris Quinn from the forum said that young people are often excluded from debates on political as well as social and economic issues and that is why they wanted to commission this poll.

He said the results filled him with an "enormous amount of hope" as they came from young people from all kinds of backgrounds.

"What we find is that young people are keen to work together on social issues and they are also keen to debate legacy issues," he said.

Lauren McAreavey from the Northern Ireland Youth Forum said: "The key for us was that the vast majority of young people in Northern Ireland wanted to acknowledge the centenary. That's really unique and shows a new perspective in Northern Ireland."

Lauren added that there was a significant appetite for a border poll, saying: "It's about celebrating and acknowledging our history and not forgetting where we came from and also looking to the future and the possibility of a border poll."