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Irish Times poll reveals mounting voter unhappiness over Coalition immigration policy

Government off track, with almost eight in 10 voters wanting more done to manage contentious issue

Poll immigration
Immigration has become a political hot potato in recent times. Illustration: Paul Scott

Today’s Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll points to the significant discontent with the Government’s immigration policy and the potential political risk when voters go to the polls on June 7th.

Our poll was conducted face-to-face on Monday and Tuesday of this week among a national quota sample of 1,500 people, representative of about four million adults aged 18 and upwards.

It is important to note that much of the fieldwork was undertaken before Tuesday’s announcement of the Government’s decision to cut welfare rates for some refugees.

Immigration has become a political hot potato in recent times. This is reflected in Ipsos global polling, with 36 per cent in Ireland identifying immigration control as a source of concern — a substantial increase from only 7 per cent in 2022. Out of 33 countries surveyed by Ipsos, Ireland ranks in the top three countries most worried about immigration.


Taking a wider view, 46 per cent of voters in today’s poll feel that, in general, immigration has been positive for Ireland, with 38 per cent identifying it as a negative. This is broadly unchanged since the previous Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll in February.

Voters clearly recognise immigration as a multifaceted issue and balance in their mind the key roles played by migrants in supporting our health and service sectors against images of tents in Dublin and protests across the country at sites earmarked for accommodating asylum seekers and refugees.

Irish Times poll analysis: Attitudes on immigration toughest among Sinn Féin supporters  ]

When it comes to immigration policy, the widely held view at this point is that the Government is off track, with almost eight in 10 voters (79 per cent) wanting to see the Coalition do more to manage the issue of immigration.

There are two key areas where voters would like to see more action. First, there is an appetite for deporting individuals whose application for asylum has failed, with almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of voters believing this is something the Government could be doing more of. Second, a more closed policy to reduce the numbers coming to Ireland is preferred, with 63 per cent favouring tighter restrictions.

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Particularly striking, perhaps, is that there is majority support across all demographic groups for each of these actions.

Opinion is more divided when it comes to the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees. While 48 per cent of voters would like to see the Government do more in this regard, almost as many, 43 per cent, feel that it is already doing enough.

With three weeks to go to the local and European elections, 38 per cent of voters say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who voiced concerns about immigration. This is a notable increase on the 30 per cent who felt this way in February. In contrast, almost one in five voters (18 per cent) would be less likely to support this type of candidate.

The attraction of immigration-concerned candidates cuts across all demographic groups of voters regardless of age, social class or where they live.

Across the larger parties, the appeal is strongest among Sinn Féin voters with 44 per cent of its supporters saying they would be likely to vote for this type of candidate. This compares with 32 per cent of Fianna Fáil voters and 31 per cent of Fine Gael voters. Labour and Green Party supporters are more likely to reject than embrace an anti-immigration message.

Just over half — 52 per cent — of those voting for Independent candidates or smaller parties say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate that voiced concerns about immigration, versus just 14 per cent who would avoid voting for an anti-immigration candidate.

Clearly, a party’s or candidate’s position on immigration is part of their appeal, so we can reasonably expect immigration policy to play a role in the upcoming elections.