So you support a nuclear war Father

Opinion polls can often be taken with a grain of salt, especially where people provide answers to different questions that appear not to be consistent. For example, we have in the past referred to polls on climate change where 79% of one sample of Irish people agreed that action on climate ought to be a priority, but that only 14% of similar survey conducted not long before were prepared to pay higher fuel prices. 

A similar dissonance can be found in recent polling on the Irish response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis. In one poll conducted across a range of local newspapers, 44% of respondents are currently saying that they would take in Ukrainian refugees.  

Apart altogether from the fact that it is easy to say you would do something anonymously without there been much of a chance that you will be asked to actually do whatever it is you said you would on the interweb, the numbers saying they would take someone in is significantly lower than the 66% in an Irish Independent poll who said that Ireland should take in more than 20,000 people fleeing Ukraine.  

The most disturbing statistic from the Indo poll, however, was the number of people who appear to be happy enough to risk the prospect of a nuclear war if NATO was to be become involved on the side of Ukraine.  

In response to the question: “Would you agree with a deployment of NATO in Ukraine, even if that risked a war involving nuclear weapons?” 29% answered Yes. However, that is lower than the 49% who believe that the concept of neutrality needs to be revisited, but twice as many as the 15% who think that the Irish state ought to actually join NATO rather than cheer it on from the sidelines. 

None of the findings are really consistent, and it would be unfair to expect people responding to a quick poll on an emotionally fraught subject with that sort of consistency. However, the political leadership both in government and the serious opposition ought to have weighed such matters and provided some kind of guidance.  

For the simple fact is that if Ireland abandons neutrality then the armed forces would of necessity have to join NATO and if they did then would be obliged like all the other members to take part according to their capacity in any military intervention in which NATO becomes involved in.  

The breakdown of party support is also interesting and again illustrates the extent to which the Sinn Féin voter profile on key issues is of a piece with the two main government parties. Even ten years ago, Sinn Féin voters were noticeably more supportive of neutrality than those of any other party, but that has altered in line with their abandonment of what some of them would now brand “Euroscepticism.”  

Indeed, the 35% of Sinn Féin voters who would be prepared to countenance a nuclear war was not only significantly higher than the overall 29% of those polled, but 3% higher than that of Fianna Fail voters and 11% more than the 24% of Fine Gael supporters who agreed with the proposition. 

It is interesting too that Sinn Féin voters are well out of synch with both supporters of Solidarity/People Before Profit and Aontú both of whom they would share either a contested electoral pool and/or a shared ideological position on many issues, or a common origin in the case of Aontú, 

Indeed, it is noteworthy that while Solidarity/PBP and Aontú would generally be regarded as pretty much polar opposites in comparison to the parties of the crowded middle ground, that their voters provided an almost identical response on the issue of NATO and a possible nuclear war.  

Perhaps that has to do with supporters of smaller parties being more likely to hold views divergent to the mainstream no matter what the issue, or perhaps that supporters of smaller parties are more ideologically committed and indeed more in tune with what their parties actually stand for, rather than what they think they stand for. Which is increasingly the case for Sinn Féin. 

Finally, on a lighter note, a shout out for those polled who informed their interlocutors that they have no intention of voting for anyone; none of whom relish the prospect of a nuclear war, and 73% of whom have no opinion one way or the other.   

Which is either an indication of a perhaps commendable Zen Buddhist or Quietist disengagement from the affairs of the world, or that they have better things to be doing than thinking about all of that. An enviable gene one thinks at times…. 

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