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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 14:05 GMT
More than 75% 'set to vote'
Poll suggested 17% were not interested in politics
A new opinion poll suggests that more than three quarters of Northern Ireland voters are very likely to take part in this month's assembly election.

The poll published in Wednesday's Belfast Telegraph also indicates sharp differences between both communities about whether the government was right to call the election.

The survey suggested the Ulster Unionist Party was ahead of the Democratic Unionist Party among potential voters, with the SDLP ahead of Sinn Fein in the battle for nationalist votes.

The findings of polling company Millward Brown Ulster indicated that on the basis of first voting intentions, the Ulster Unionists were on 26%, DUP on 20%, SDLP on 22% and Sinn Fein on 20%.

The company said while "the final results will be very close indeed, that the SDLP will retain its position as the premier nationalist party and the UUP as the premier unionist party".

However, it cautioned that Sinn Fein and the DUP traditionally registered lower support in polls than they actually received at the ballot box.

The survey - based on a sample of 1,058 adults interviewed at 50 locations across Northern Ireland - suggested just over 80% of those questioned said they were certain or very likely to vote, with 7% saying they were certain not to vote.
Poll suggested Mr Trimble was favoured as first minister
Poll suggested Mr Trimble was favoured as first minister

Of those questioned, 22% of Protestants and 7% of Catholics rated Prime Minister Tony Blair's performance on Northern Ireland as "very poor" and just 1% scored Secretary of State Paul Murphy as "very good", but 37% said they did not know.

The survey suggested UUP leader David Trimble was the favoured politician to re-occupy his former post as first minister, rating 22%, with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams on 15% and SDLP leader Mark Durkan on 14%.

However, it indicated that Mr Durkan, the former deputy first minister, was the favourite on a cross-community basis to occupy one of the joint posts in the Office of First and Deputy First Minister.

Among the unionist interviewees, Mr Durkan was the overwhelming choice to share power with a unionist first minister, the poll indicated.

It suggested Mr Blair's decision to call the election was endorsed by 53%, with David Trimble's decision to pull out of agreed sequencing because of demands for clarity over IRA arms also backed by 53%.

The poll was conducted for the Belfast Telegraph newspaper between 6-8 November.

More findings from the poll can be found on the Northern Ireland Vote 2003 site.

To find out the results where you live, enter your full postcode

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