Snapshot June 2024

Firmly established as the big two issues in our Snapshot polling series, immigration and housing remain centre stage in June. Immigration remains the leading concern for the second month in succession and for the fourth time this year.

The author(s)
  • Kieran O'Leary Research Director
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Each monthly Snapshot poll, conducted for The Irish Times by Ipsos B&A, canvasses the opinions of 1,000 Irish adults, asking what they have seen or heard about the Government that makes them think the country is moving in the right or wrong direction. All answers are recorded verbatim and later coded into answer categories.

Almost half of respondents to this month’s poll mention either immigration or housing. These crowd out all other issues and were clearly prominent in voters’ minds as they cast their votes in the local and European elections.

Both issues span the generational divide, although priorities differ. Younger people are more acutely aware of the challenges in housing. Almost a third (31 per cent) of those aged between 18 and 34 identify this as the prominent issue, compared to 18 per cent mentioning immigration. The reverse is the case among the over-55s who are more focussed on immigration (33 per cent) with 16 per cent thinking of something related to housing.

Differences are apparent between the capital and the rest of the country. In Dublin housing (29 per cent) is a more salient issue than immigration (19 per cent). The rest of the country has a different focus with immigration capturing the attention of 29 per cent and housing  identified by 18 per cent.

It is clear from reading through the verbatim comments that the two issues are clearly interlinked in the public’s mind. Mentions of immigration often include a secondary reference to housing, outweighing other immigration concerns including border controls, fears of crime and levels of financial support provided to new arrivals. “So many Irish people without homes, meanwhile the government are trying their best to provide homes for refugees” according to one respondent. 

This sentiment is supported by recent Ipsos global polling across 52 countries which identifies Ireland as one of only 3 – alongside Turkey and Lebanon – where a majority believes that over the next few years refugees are likely to have a negative impact on public services like hospitals, education and housing.

The Israel/Palestine conflict is the next most salient issue in our Snapshot poll, however it garners just 7 per cent of mentions. Fieldwork commenced 2 days after the government announced its formal recognition of the state of Palestine and the headlines were dominated by the fallout from this historic move. Notably, it’s the same proportion that identified this issue back in November in the early stages of Israel’s response to the Hamas attacks. 

The issue is equally prominent across all age groups, however it is the only leading issue where a social class divide exists. While 9 per cent of the more affluent ABC1 group identify it as the key issue, only 5 per cent of C2DEs do so. 

When responding to the Snapshot question respondents are more likely to mention areas where they feel the government is falling short of expectations. However, the government’s move to recognise the state of Palestine is received largely positively – although not universally so – with  quite a number of mentions singling out the Taoiseach personally for credit in making this move.

Many other domestic issues bubble under the surface. These include healthcare/HSE (4 per cent) as well as climate change/sustainability, cost of living/inflation, employment and social policies (each at 3 per cent). Also on the list are education, crime and infrastructure (each at 2 per cent).

A key lesson from the Snapshot series is that less prominent issues can suddenly emerge from the long grass. Sometimes due to particular events, but other times due to an erosion of public confidence.

Immigration is one of these issues. Hidden among the long tail of less salient issues it suddenly emerged as a dominant topic and has been top of the agenda for much of this year. 

The decision to call a general election will be determined by a myriad of factors. Among these will be the desire to turn the tide on conversations around immigration and housing. But eyes will need to remain focussed what’s lurking in the long grass too. The best laid plans of mice and men.

The table is available to view or download below.

Kieran O'Leary, Director - Ipsos B&A

The author(s)
  • Kieran O'Leary Research Director