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Wouldn’t it be great if it wasn’t like here at least some of the time?

5 21 5

The latest poll says only one in three people here would vote for a united Ireland immediately. This is hard on the heels of a consensus that the Assembly elections will deliver multiple blows to the Union — a consensus fed, it must be said, by polls.

It doesn’t make cheery reading for either nationalists or unionists.

Shortly after taking out St Patrick’s Day adverts in US outlets including the Washington Post seeking a border poll, Sinn Fein announced a manifesto prioritising cost-of-living issues, as much perhaps due to anxiety about the progress of grassroots People Before Profit politics as any poll findings.

And even the big unionist bugbear — dismantling the Northern Ireland Protocol — for all its ability to drive some into a frenzy, is at root a plea for the status quo. If not quite an endorsement of how old things worked, it’s an effort to remove something new that doesn’t work.

But such responses may be misunderstanding the findings and the altered mood behind them. They’re more an indication of how ground down people are by the relentless tedium of our politics.

Of course, two block Orange and Green votes will remain after May 5. But within those camps there’s a growing realisation that what really matters is not some endless existential worry about the constitutional status in 20 years’ time, but life in the here and now.

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