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Help with cost of living and free GP care main budget priorities for under 35s

Irish Times/Ipsos poll shows more than a quarter of under 25s want abolition of college fees

Immediate help with the cost of living and prioritising free GP care for all or the abolition of college fees are among the main budget demands among young people, according to the findings of the latest Irish Times/Ipsos poll.

With the budget less than two weeks away, young people said they would like to see the Government putting an emphasis on immediately helping with the cost-of-living.

Some 63 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds chose this option as did 54 per cent of those in the 25-34 year old category.

Increased spending on public services was the next most popular choice in the 18 to 24 group at 16 per cent followed by reducing the tax they pay (11 per cent) and saving surplus resources to invest in the future (10 per cent).


For the 25 to 34 age group tax cuts was the second most popular option – at 25 per cent; increased public spending was next (13 per cent); followed by using surplus exchequer funding to invest in the future (6 per cent).

Across all age groups a budget emphasis on immediate cost-of-living measures was the most popular choice at 52 per cent.

Those surveyed were also given options for what permanent changes they want the Government to prioritise in the upcoming budget.

Some 31 per cent of under 35s chose free GP care for all.

The next most popular answer among 18 to 24-year-olds was no third level fees at 26 per cent followed by mortgage interest relief at 22 per cent.

Just 6 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds wanted no third level fees but 18 per cent chose free preschool childcare as the permanent change that should be prioritised.

In contrast just 1 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds picked the free childcare option.

Mortgage interest relief was the preferred option of 17 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds.

Free GP care for all was the most popular choice for prioritisation across all age groups with 26 per cent support followed by mortgage interest relief (19 per cent); winter fuel bill contributions (18 per cent) Universal Social Charge (USC) cuts (12 per cent); free childcare (11 per cent); and no college fees (9 per cent).

The next general election must be held by March 2025 at the latest and a third of the under-35s surveyed want it to take place now.

Almost a third believe it should be held in autumn 2024, though more than a quarter believe the election should not happen until the full term of the current Government ends in 2025.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald was the most popular choice to be the next taoiseach with 40 per cent of the 18 to 24 group and 38 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds expressing this preference.

Across all age groups 32 per cent of all people surveyed chose Ms McDonald while current Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader, Tánaiste Micheál Martin were both the choice of 18 per cent of respondents.

Mr Varadkar was a more popular choice among 25-34 years olds (18 per cent) than 18 to 24-year-olds (10 per cent).

More of the younger group chose Mr Martin (13 per cent) than those in the 25-34 age group (10 per cent).

One in five under 35s thought the next taoiseach should be somebody other than the ‘big three’ party leaders and 16 per cent of did not know who it should be or expressed no opinion.

Across all age groups 38 per cent of those surveyed believe it is “time for radical change” in the way the country is run.

A significantly greater proportion (51 per cent), said that they were in favour of “moderate change”.

Just 8 per cent said they are “wary of change”.

Some 44 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds want radical change; 41 per cent want moderate change; and 6 per cent are wary of change.

For the 25 to 34-year-olds the corresponding figures were radical change (43 per cent); moderate change (49 per cent); and wary of change (5 per cent).

A Sinn Féin-led Government without the involvement of either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael is the preference of a third of under-35s overall.

Just 12 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds surveyed want a return of the current Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green Party Coalition; 8 per cent expressed a preference for a Sinn Féin/Fianna Fáil Coalition and 6 per cent wanted a Sinn Féin/Fine Gael Government deal.

In total 15 per cent of people in the same age group wanted none of these options and 25 per cent either did not know what the make-up of the next Government should be or had no opinion.

In the 25 to 34 category 18 per cent said they wanted the continuation of the current Coalition after the next election; 10 per cent wanted a Sinn Féin/Fianna Fáil Government; 2 per cent wanted Sinn Féin/Fine Gael; 21 per cent wanted none of these options and 15 per cent either did not know or had no opinion.

The poll was conducted among 1,200 adults at 120 sampling points across all constituencies between September 24th and 26th.

A total of 329 of those surveyed were under the age of 35.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times