Irish Times/Ipsos B&A Snapshot Poll

Immigration and housing continue to grab our attention, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos B&A Snapshot poll.

The author(s)
  • Damian Loscher Managing Director
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Immigration and housing continue to grab our attention, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos B&A Snapshot poll. 

Between the 2nd and 15th of February, a representative sample of 1,000 adults living in Ireland were asked ‘What have you come across in what the Government has said or done recently that has made you think the country is going in the right or wrong direction?

Immigration tops the poll with 22 per cent of mentions (down two points since January), with a general sense among the broader population that immigration is too high in Ireland.

Immigration is top of mind for about one in three (36 per cent) adults from a farming background, with above average mentions (26 per cent) among those living in the Connaught/Ulster region.

Public opinion on immigration is that Ireland has overstretched itself, with respondents highlighting how Irish citizens are now competing with those arriving into the country for scarce housing and limited public services. A sense that immigrants were being treated better than long-time residents comes through from the verbatim comments.

While some citizens cite how welcoming Ireland has been to refugees as a positive for Government, sentiment towards policy on immigration is overwhelmingly negative.   

Since Snapshot polling began last July, housing has been the number one or two issue every month. In February, housing is number two, with 15 per cent of mentions (down four points). The perceived wisdom is that the Government is not doing enough, especially in the minds of the under 35s for whom housing is their number one issue (mentioned by 21 per cent).

Both immigration and housing have socio-economic dimensions. Among working-class respondents, immigration concerns trump housing concerns by a considerable margin – 26 per cent to 13 per cent. On the other hand, housing (at 18 per cent) pips immigration (at 16 per cent) to be the most salient issue among the middle classes. 

With immigration and housing so topical, other narratives naturally struggle for oxygen. That said, some issues have been getting more attention this month, in response to actions taken by the Government recently.

Climate change/sustainability has climbed the table (up four points to seven per cent) to be the number three issue this month, fuelled by initiatives announced around bottle recycling and a car-free Dublin city centre.

The two referendums scheduled for March 8th are also beginning to cut through, helping to push democracy/political process up the list of topics getting attention, from two per cent to five per cent across the general population, and up to seven per cent among the under 35s specifically. 

On a number of new Government actions – a car-free city, bottle recycling and the upcoming referendums - opinion is mixed on whether they are positive or negative for the Government, demonstrating how challenging it is to make decisions that will be universally seen in a positive light.

For example, some respondents regard closing off the city centre to cars as a good thing, but just as many are against the idea or expect it will be a ‘disaster’.

Respondents to our poll are not fixated on the healthcare system/HSE, as may have been the case in previous years during the winter months, with mentions only marginally higher this wave (up two points to four per cent).

The public may be less exercised about the continuing conflict between Israel and Palestine than the headlines suggest, with just four per cent (up one point) giving the conflict a first mention. 

Other topics such as the cost of living (three per cent) and crime/Gardai (three per cent) do not feature prominently this month, but we know from previous waves of the Snapshot poll that losing control of costs or crime will get the public’s attention. But for now, it is a two-horse race – immigration and housing.

The trended data graph can be viewed/downloaded below. 

The author(s)
  • Damian Loscher Managing Director