The majority of people in Northern Ireland favor a border poll on a United Ireland within the next five years, according to a Sunday Times opinion poll.
A total of 51% of those surveyed said that they supported a border poll within the next five years, with 44% against the poll.
The Sunday Times poll found that 47% of Northern Irish people still want to remain in the United Kingdom, while 42% of people support a United Ireland with a significant 11% undecided on the issue.
Responding to the poll, Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O'Neill said that "an unstoppable conversation" was now underway regarding Northern Ireland's future.
O'Neill, who serves as Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, also called on the Irish Government to begin preparing for a border poll and a potential United Ireland.
"We can overcome the barriers of partition and build a new Ireland," O'Neill said on Twitter.
Over 50% of people here support a referendum on unity in the next five years
There is an unstoppable conversation underway on our constitutional future
It is time for the Irish Government to step up preparations
We can overcome the barriers of partition and build a new Ireland— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) January 23, 2021
DUP leader Arlene Foster, however, said that it would be "absolutely reckless" to be distracted by a border poll in the middle of a pandemic at a time when Northern Irish people are "coming together" in the fight against the coronavirus.
She also said that the conversation on a border poll has been going on for 100 years since the foundation of Northern Ireland in an apparent response to O'Neill's tweet.
"No one fears having the conversation. We have seen through the pandemic the strength of the United Kingdom," Foster said.
.@DUPleader Arlene Foster says a referendum in Northern Ireland on the border would be "reckless", adding 'it is disappointing to see some nationalist parties across the UK talking about constitutional politics' during the #COVID19 pandemic.#Ridge: https://t.co/Fgc23lBO9H pic.twitter.com/TSwFuJQx8A— Sophy Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) January 24, 2021
Nevertheless, she said that the issue of a border poll was "divisive" and said that she was disappointed that nationalist parties "trying to take this opportunity to talk about constitutional politics" during a pandemic.
Elsewhere, the Sunday Times poll found that 49% of Scottish people supported independence compared to 42% who backed remaining with the United Kingdom. while 60% of English voters believe that Scotland will leave the UK within the next ten years.
In Wales, where support for the United Kingdom has traditionally been the strongest, 23% of those surveyed supported independence while 31% were in favor of a referendum.