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EDITIONS
Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Slump in support for Agreement
The Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998
Support for the Good Friday Agreement is at its lowest ebb, according to an opinion poll commissioned by BBC Northern Ireland's Hearts and Minds programme.

The survey reveals strong support for an end to paramilitary activity as a requirement for a return to devolved government at Stormont.

The power-sharing executive was suspended for the fourth time at midnight on Monday following allegations of IRA intelligence gathering in the Northern Ireland Office. Four people have been charged over the claims.

More than 1,000 people were questioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers on Tuesday and Wednesday after Secretary of State John Reid's decision to re-introduce direct rule to the province.

John Reid: Secretary of State
John Reid: Suspended the power-sharing executive on Monday

It suggests support for the Agreement is now only 56% - compared to more than 70% at the time of the referendum four years ago.

Only a third of unionists would vote for the Agreement if the referendum was held today - that is about 10 percentage points down since the programme sampled opinion a year ago.

Nationalist support has also dropped, although it remains at an overwhelming 82%.

There is clear disillusionment amongst unionists with power sharing - 58% of unionists told the pollsters that they did not want to share power with either the SDLP or Sinn Fein.

Despite their attachment to the Agreement, just over a half of all nationalists said they would be prepared to see it renegotiated.

Across the board there is a sense that something radical will have to happen if devolution is to be restored.

A third of those surveyed want to see a full cessation of paramilitary activity as a requirement for the return from suspension of the assembly.

Interviews for the poll were conducted across all the 18 parliamentary constituencies and 26 district council areas of Northern Ireland.

It is the fourth such survey commissioned by Hearts and Minds since the referendum on the Agreement.

Hearts and Minds BBC2 NI Thursday 1930 BST
Programme repeated on BBC1 NI Thursday 2335 BST

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's political editor Mark Devenport:
"It may well be there are unionists who are disillusioned with the power-sharing experiment"
BBC NI's Julian O'Neill:
"Nationalist support has also dropped, although it remains at an overwhelming 82%"

Key stories

Political views

Hearts and Minds
See also:

15 Oct 02 | N Ireland
14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
11 Oct 02 | N Ireland
11 Oct 02 | N Ireland
17 Oct 02 | N Ireland
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