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Irish Times poll: Public mood on immigration hardening as local and European elections approach

Supporters of Sinn Fein (44%) and Independents (52%) most likely to be impressed by candidates voicing concerns on issue

Poll immigration

The public mood on immigration and asylum seekers is hardening as the local and European elections approach, the latest Irish Times/Ipsos B&A opinion poll suggests.

While a clear majority of voters who express a view say immigration in general has been a positive for Ireland, voters also favour a more closed asylum policy and greater efforts by the Government to deport asylum seekers whose applications have failed.

The number of people who say that they are more likely to vote for a candidate who has voiced concerns about immigration has also increased sharply since February, the poll finds.

Respondents to the poll, carried out earlier this week, were asked a series of questions about immigration and asylum issues. The debate on these issues has dominated politics in recent months and the Irish Times/Ipsos B&A monthly Snapshot series, which measures what voters are noticing about the Government, consistently places immigration at or near the top of the list of issues.


Asked if they were “in favour of a more open policy to allow more asylum seekers/people seeking international protection to come to Ireland” or a more closed policy, just 15 per cent said they favoured a more open policy, a decline of one point since February. Almost two-thirds of voters (63 per cent) said they favoured a more closed policy, an increase of four points. Just 16 per cent (down three points) said the policy was “just right”.

Voters were also asked their views on a series of statements about the Government’s approach, and whether the Government was “doing enough” or should “do more”.

Almost three quarters of voters (73 per cent) say the Government should do more “to deport asylum seekers whose applications have failed”, while just 13 per cent say the Government is doing enough.

An overwhelming majority of voters (79 per cent) say that the Government should do more “to manage the issue of immigration”, with just 16 per cent saying the Government is doing enough.

Voters are split on whether the Government is doing enough to “provide accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees”; 43 per cent say the Government is doing enough, while 48 per cent say it should do more.

Today’s findings also show how these sentiments have the potential to influence elections. Asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who voiced concerns about immigration, 38 per cent – an increase of eight points since February – said they would be more likely, with 18 per cent (down two) saying they would be less likely. More than a third of voters (36 per cent) say it would make no difference, a decline of four points.

Supporters of Sinn Féin (44 per cent of them) and Independents (52 per cent) are the most likely to be impressed by a candidate voicing concerns on immigration.

However, many voters remain convinced that, on balance, immigration has been a good thing. Almost half of all voters (46 per cent) say immigration has been a positive thing. However, the numbers saying it is a negative thing (38 per cent) have grown by three points since February.

The poll was conducted among a representative sample of adults aged 18 years and upwards across 150 sampling points throughout all constituencies. Personal in-home interviewing took place between May 11th and 15th. The total number of interviews conducted was 1,500. The sample size for this poll is larger than typical for Irish Times/Ipsos B&A polls in order to accommodate 500 interviews in each of the European Parliament constituencies, results of which will be reported later this week. The accuracy is estimated at plus or minus 2.5 per cent.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times