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Irish Times poll: Most voters believe it important to help those at risk but are concerned about capacity

Obligation to help those in need of asylum is recognised across the full political spectrum, Irish Times/Ipsos poll results show

With the war in Ukraine now into its fifth month, today’s Irish Times/Ipsos poll highlights the importance that voters place on Ireland meeting its international obligations to help people who are at risk, with the vast majority (82 per cent) agreeing we should live up to this responsibility.

Our obligation to help those in need of asylum is recognised across the full political spectrum, with Green Party and Labour voters the most likely to hold to this commitment (both at 97 per cent).

The instinct to help those seeking asylum is also shared by all segments of our society. Most likely to endorse our obligations are voters living in Dublin (87 per cent), middle-class voters (86 per cent) and those aged between 50 and 64 (86 per cent).

Today’s poll findings are consistent with Ipsos international polling which shows Ireland to be one of the most open societies, reflecting our own history of emigration at times when our economy struggled to provide the employment opportunities it does today.


Fieldwork for today’s poll took place on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of this week, among a nationally representative sample of 1,200 eligible voters across every constituency in Ireland. Interviews were conducted in home by trained and experienced Ipsos interviewers.

The timing of this poll follows a surge in refugees arriving in Ireland from Ukraine and this latest chapter in our immigration story is likely to impact, to some extent, public opinion on the question of immigration and openness.

Today’s Irish Times/Ipsos poll confirms that most voters believe it is important to help those at risk and also highlights how concerned the public are regarding our capacity to manage the influx of refugees escaping the conflict in Ukraine. A majority (84 per cent) of voters agree ‘there is a limit to the number of asylum seekers and refugees that Ireland can cope with’.


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Fine Gael and Sinn Féin supporters are aligned in their agreement (both at 87 per cent agree) that there is a limit to how many refugees Ireland can manage, closely followed by Fianna Fáil supporters (86 per cent agree). While the majority of Green Party and Labour supporters share this view, their levels of agreement are somewhat lower, at 74 per cent and 79 per cent respectively.

Specifically on the question of whether we should accept all Ukrainians who make it here or if there should be a cap on the number coming into Ireland, almost three-quarters of voters (73 per cent) feel that there should be a cap, 23 per cent feel that we should accept all Ukrainians and 4 per cent express no opinion.

Support for a cap is strongest among voters in Connacht/Ulster at 83 per cent and while the majority of Dublin and middle-class voters agree there should be a cap, these two groupings register the lowest levels of support for the measure (both at 65 per cent).

Sinn Féin supporters are strongly in favour of a cap (86 per cent in favour), while Labour Party (49 per cent) and Green Party (53 per cent) supporters are somewhat split on whether the numbers should be limited.

The sheer number of refugees coming to Ireland does appear to be causing some concern, in the short term at least. When voters were asked directly if they are concerned that too many refugees and asylum seekers might come to Ireland, 60 per cent are concerned, 34 per cent are not concerned and 6 per cent express no opinion either way.

Sinn Féin voters are most likely to be concerned at 67 per cent, followed by Fianna Fáil voters (62 per cent), Fine Gael voters (59 per cent) and Independent/Others (57 per cent). Labour Party and Green Party supporters are least likely to be concerned at 20 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.

In terms of demographics, among those most concerned about this issue are those living in Connacht/Ulster (72 per cent), those living in rural areas (69 per cent) and working-class voters (69 per cent).

Concern about the numbers that might come into Ireland is lowest among middle class (49 per cent) and Dublin voters (50 per cent).

Immigration is not something that typically exercises the Irish voter. It has never featured in the list of top concerns for Irish voters — a list which is usually dominated by the housing crisis and a creaking health service.

Only time will tell if the challenges posed by the Ukrainian refugee crisis and our response to these challenges will move immigration up the list.