Majority in Ireland 'want a halt to IRA violence'

AN OPINION poll in the Dublin Sunday Independent yesterday found 94 per cent of voters in the Irish Republic believed the IRA and Sinn Fein should announce a permanent end to hostilities following the Downing Street Declaration. In Northern Ireland this view won the support of 85 per cent, writes Alan Murdoch.

But the accuracy of the poll was immediately challenged by Sinn Fein leaders. On Irish radio Sinn Fein's president, Gerry Adams, said a separate poll has found only 6 per cent of Irish voters had actually read the Downing Street Declaration. Martin McGuinness ridiculed the finding, also in yesterday's poll, that a security clampdown against the IRA would have the support of 35 per cent of Sinn Fein voters in the North if the IRA rejected the declaration.

The poll was produced by Irish Marketing Surveys in the Irish Republic and by Ulster Marketing Surveys for the Sunday Independent and the BBC. The sample consisted of 1,053 interviews at 75 sampling points in the Republic and 863 interviews at 40 sampling points in Northern Ireland.

The results indicated 74 per cent of southern voters favoured a crackdown in the event of a continuing conflict. The equivalent figure in the North was 77 per cent. Among SDLP voters 69 per cent backed the proposition.

The same proportion, 79 per cent in both North and South, agreed it would be wrong to impose a united Ireland without the consent of a majority in Northern Ireland. Asked if Sinn Fein and the IRA had had enough time to respond to the declaration, 72 per cent in the Republic and 76 per cent in the North said yes.