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Immigration and housing capture citizens’ attention in the first edition of Snapshot

Comments on immigration were overwhelmingly negative, with sentiment focused on our general inability to cope with the numbers arriving and on the Government’s policy responses

Immigration and housing have captured the attention of citizens, leaving little room for issues such as climate change or the Gaza conflict to cut through, according to the first published Irish Times/Ipsos B&A attention poll Snapshot.

Snapshot is a measure of what is top-of-mind for citizens when asked to consider what the Government has done or said recently that may indicate if the country is going in the right or wrong direction.

Snapshot only takes into account first mentions and all responses are recorded verbatim, without any prompting, allowing the most important issues to come to the fore.

Fieldwork for this month’s Snapshot was conducted via telephone among a national sample of 1,000 citizens aged 15 years and upwards between January 10th and January 18th.


How immigration came to top the poll will be the topic of much debate. Historically immigration has not made it on to the public radar despite the changing face of the Irish population over the past two decades.

More recently Irish Times/Ipsos B&A political polls have registered public disquiet at our ability to cope with the number of refugees coming here. However, the level of immigration anxiety registered by this poll was unexpected, accounting for 24 per cent of mentions.

Immigration was recalled most by those aged 45 to 54 years (34 per cent), those living in Connacht/Ulster (31 per cent) and by working-class respondents (28 per cent).

When analysed comments on immigration were overwhelmingly negative (81 per cent), with sentiment focused on our general inability to cope with the numbers arriving and on the Government’s policy responses specifically.

Positive comments on immigration (19 per cent) included references to how welcoming Ireland has been to refugees and that we are “‘doing the right thing”.

Next most likely to grab the attention of citizens was the subject of housing, making up 19 per cent of comments. Uniquely the housing challenge has featured prominently in every Snapshot poll since July 2023, never dipping below 16 per cent. While other issues have come and gone, housing continues to pique our interest.

Young people in the age range most impacted by the cost of rent and a lack of affordable housing – 25 to 34 years – are especially alert to challenges around housing, which spark 30 per cent of comments and make it the most salient issue for this cohort.

On housing sentiment was overwhelmingly negative, with 87 per cent of mentions classified as unfavourable.

Housing is an extremely emotive issue as illustrated by one parent who wondered if young people would be less likely to emigrate if the housing problem was addressed.

Immigration and housing are not separate issues for citizens. An analysis of verbatim comments confirms the connection, with respondents noting how the need to accommodate new arrivals has exacerbated the housing challenges that already existed.

With immigration and housing preoccupying the public other important issues have less opportunity to take centre stage. Cost-of-living concerns were most prominent in September (17 per cent of mentions), but only register 3 per cent in the latest January wave despite the fact that inflation has not gone away.

Also crowded out are efforts to address climate change and the Palestine/Israel conflict, each with just 3 per cent of mentions.

The emergence of immigration and the enduring nature of housing as major topics of debate among the Irish public are the key takeouts from this first edition of Snapshot. More to follow in the months ahead.

Damian Loscher is managing director of Ipsos MRBI (Ireland)