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Only 16% of DUP voters back British PM's Northern Ireland deal - poll

Container ships are berthed at the Port of Belfast

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Only 16% of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party voters would back British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's recent deal with the European Union on post-Brexit trade rules if a referendum were held, a poll showed on Saturday.

The survey by polling company LucidTalk for the Belfast Telegraph newspaper found that just 38% of the region's wider unionist electorate would vote in favour of the Windsor Framework agreement if a referendum were held.

While 73% of DUP voters and 50% of unionist voters would oppose the deal, 67% of all voters in the region were in favour thanks to strong support among nationalists, the poll showed.

Unionists want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, while nationalists favour a united Ireland.

The British government is not expected to need the votes of the DUP or the wider Northern Ireland electorate to ratify the agreement, which was announced in February, but Sunak had hoped to use the deal to convince the party to end a boycott that has frozen the region's devolved government.

In an apparent sign of falling support for the DUP's boycott, the percentage of unionists who said the region's devolved government should not be restored until issues around post-Brexit trade rules are resolved fell to 54% from 66% in a poll six weeks ago.

The online poll questioned 3,409 people on March 3-5.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries and Amanda Ferguson; Editing by Mark Potter)