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Demonstrators marching through Roscrea last month in protest at the use of a local hotel to house asylum seekers. Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Majority of people favour 'more closed' immigration policy, new poll shows

The poll also shows that a majority of people who expressed a view say that on balance immigration has been a positive for Ireland.

A MAJORITY OF people favour a “more closed” immigration policy to reduce the number of people coming to Ireland, a new poll shows.

The Irish Times/Ipsos B&A opinion poll also shows that a majority of people who expressed a view say that on balance immigration has been a positive for Ireland.

The poll comes as immigration to Ireland – particularly in relation to people coming to the country seeking international protection – has dominated the political agenda in recent months.

Multiple protests have been held over the past year in towns and areas across the country against local buildings being used to house asylum seekers. There have also been multiple arson attacks on such buildings, including last week when an old nursing home was set on fire in south Dublin, after rumours circulated that it was to be used to house asylum seekers.

The poll asked participants whether they were in favour of a more open immigration policy, and more closed immigration policy, or if the current policy was just right.

59% of people said they wanted a more closed policy, while 19% said the current policy was just right. Just 16% said they would like a more open policy, while 6% said they didn’t know or had no opinion.

The impact on local services such as health and education, a shortage of housing, and fears that refugees or asylum seekers may not be properly vetted dominated the concerns that people had.

Respondents were also asked whether on balance immigration has been a positive for Ireland, a negative for Ireland, or if it made no difference.

Just under half (48%) said immigration had been a positive, while 35% said it had been negative. One in 10 said it made no difference while 6% said they didn’t know or had no opinion.

A total of 30% also said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who voiced concerns about immigration, while 20% said they would be less likely to vote for them. Two out of five people said it would make no difference and 8% said they didn’t know / had no opinion.

When asked if they would have concerns if a building in their local area was given over to accommodation asylum seekers, 69% said they would have some concerns, and 28% said they would have no concerns. Of those with concerns, 45% said they would object, while 38% said they would accept it. 

There was some variation across political parties and regions in relation to concerns that people had, with the data showing in particular that Sinn Féin voters were tougher on immigration that others.

The poll was conducted among a representative sample of 1,200 adults between 2 and 6 February, with a margin of error or +/- 2.8%.