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Immigration is the top issue getting voters’ attention ahead of elections

Housing and immigration are the major issues voters have noticed, according to the Irish Times/Ipsos B&A Snapshot poll

Poll immigration

Immigration and housing are dominating the list of the issues voters noticed about what the Government has done in the last month, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos B&A Snapshot poll.

The research shows that the vast majority of respondents who cited immigration and housing as the issues they noticed, have a negative view of the Government’s performance.

The monthly Snapshot seeks to gauge what voters are noticing about what the Government is doing and whether that pushes the country generally in the right or wrong direction. It comes two weeks ahead of the local and European elections, the first test at the polls for Simon Harris as Taoiseach.

The poll shows that 29 per cent of respondents said that immigration was the issue they noticed the Government doing or saying something about in the past month. This was far ahead of housing (19 per cent), which has been the number one issue for most of the time since Ipsos B&A began measuring this data last summer.


Housing and immigration are far ahead of other issues. Healthcare was cited by 4 per cent of respondents, while climate change/sustainability; the cost of living; social policies; the recent referendums; and the change of leadership in Fine Gael and the Government were mentioned by 3 per cent each.

Just 2 per cent of respondents each mentioned the budget/spending; education; the economy; crime/gardaí; democracy/political process; and the Palestine-Israel conflict.

The prominence of the immigration issue has surged by 17 points this month, up from 12 per cent in April. Housing remains largely steady, down by just two points. Housing has consistently been in the top two spots, whereas immigration rose to prominence in the second half of last year.

The survey finds that the vast majority of comments made by participants are negative towards the Government’s performance. On immigration, just 14 per cent of comments were positive, with 85 per cent negative.

On housing, the responses were even worse for the Government. Nine out of ten comments (90 per cent) were negative, with just 9 per cent positive.

Today’s results come after a period in which immigration and asylum issues have frequently dominated the news agenda. The Government has toughening its stance on benefits for refugees and asylum seekers and there have been repeated clearances of tents where asylum seekers without accommodation have been living in Dublin city centre. Canvassers campaigning in the local and European elections in all parties say that the immigration issue is coming up incessantly on the doorsteps.

The new survey asks more than 1,000 respondents the following question: “What have you come across in what the Government has said or done recently that has made you think the country is going in the right or wrong direction?”

Their responses are then collated and sorted by issue and whether they view the Government in a positive or negative light as a result. A selection of their verbatim responses can be read below.

The data was collected using Omnipoll, Ipsos’s telephone omnibus survey which interviews a fresh, nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 15-plus every two weeks. The sample used includes both mobile and landline phone numbers.

Verbatim responses: What is going in the right or wrong direction in the country?

  • There is an attempt at sustainability for the climate. Immigration is out of control but they are putting a plan in place to help with that. The economy is also doing well.
  • Right direction from climate point of view, wrong direction because we need more public transportation.
  • I know that there was the bicycle lane initiative in Dublin city, that’d be the one thing. I feel that, as a cyclist myself, there were parts of the area that digging up pavements/roads has caused a lot of disruption for one of the most busiest city roads. Less safe and comfortable for cyclists.
  • The Government have a massive green agenda, pushing it down our throats, inflation not being dealt with.
  • Wrong direction: cycle ways being put in and nobody is using them, waste of money. Health service and immigration.
  • Cost of living – people struggling and going hungry. Immigration is up in the air. Portray it is all Ukrainian but it’s not – all in the wrong direction.
  • Wrong direction – with cost-of-living and rent crisis.
  • The cost of living has made it very difficult to survive, fuel tax has made it very expensive to go to work. They make it very difficult for you if you are a male parent in the country.
  • Right direction: they’re putting it up to the Brits about immigration, recent budget and tax.
  • Trying to get a handle on the immigration crisis, strides towards correcting it – right direction.
  • Stronger stance on immigration – right direction.
  • No backbone, wrong direction, immigration situation and housing we are overwhelmed, council competing with young people trying to buy homes. Nothing right.
  • Issue with refugees, no housing and community support and no provisions – wrong direction.
  • Economic immigrants – wrong direction.
  • The immigration policy and housing policy are terrible. I am currently homeless and vulture funds are buying up all the available property.
  • Immigration issues, transgenderism, climate change. Haven’t done much about asylum seekers. Wrong direction.
  • The immigration: well, it’s just so many people coming in that Ireland cannot accommodate and sustain them, especially related to the housing situation. Heading in the wrong direction currently.
  • Control our borders, need Trump in charge. We never got our independence. The Vikings ruled us for 500 years, then the Normans came in, English rule. Now Brussels, now they are invited in. Our politicians are puppets for Europe.
  • We are handling immigration badly, we don’t seem to have a plan. I have no problem with people coming in but I don’t think we can sustain the amount of people coming in. Housing is an issue, my daughter cannot afford to buy a house. It’s getting worse for her age group.
  • I’d prefer if there was a border – wrong direction.
  • The housing issue is the biggest challenge Ireland is facing and it’s going in the wrong direction.
  • I heard a lot of new houses are being built in Kerry and they’re finally housing people who have been here for a very long time, so I’m definitely happy to hear that news. Heading in the right direction, at least in this case.
  • The Government needs to stop companies from buying up houses so that ordinary people can have more access to them.
  • Housing situation, severe shortage on housing, too many vulture funds.
  • Price of rents going up each year – going in the wrong direction.
  • I would say maybe the housing crisis: how the rents are very inflated, it looks like it’s very difficult for a person to sustain themselves with the rising rents. I’m in no position to judge, but from what I can see, there seems to be a lot of development projects, so hopefully right direction.
  • Wrong direction: no clue about housing crisis, immigrants or cost of living.
  • I have two adult children who can get a mortgage but can’t afford to get a house.
  • Nothing going right, with queues in hospitals, no maintenance done on streets, prices going up.
  • In general terms of financial management they are doing well. In terms of immigration, they are going wrong.
  • Government doing a reasonable job – employment going well/economy good.
  • Generally they’re going in the right direction with the economy.
  • Fundamentally right direction, economy growing faster than most of Europe. Health service a challenge.
  • Workers are paying too much tax. Wrong direction.
  • I am a primary schoolteacher and some schools have had ancillary funds cut which results in principals having to maintain school premises/grounds, this is so wrong. I like the Government’s stance on Gaza, I like their fairly hard stance on immigration and their proposals regarding housing.


Snapshot is our monthly attention poll designed to track which Government messages are cutting through.

The question we ask is simple: what have you come across in what the Government has said or done recently that has made you think the country is going in the right or wrong direction?

This question is asked of 1,000 citizens each month. The data was collected using Omnipoll, Ipsos’s telephone omnibus survey which interviews a fresh, nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 15+ every two weeks.

The sample used is RDD (random digit dialling) and includes both mobile and landline phone numbers. At analysis stage, the data is weighted in line with the known profile of the population according to the latest Central Statistics Office estimates.

Note that the results presented here exclude those who said “don’t know/nothing/no opinion” to the question.

Fieldwork for the May wave of Snapshot was conducted between April 30th and May 14th.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times