Irish Times poll: Majority of voters support ban on protests at refugee centres

Two-thirds of voters ‘concerned too many refugees might come to Ireland’, which is up from 60% last year

Generic poll image Thursday

A large majority of voters say that protests should not be allowed at direct provision centres, according to the latest Irish Times-Ipsos opinion poll which examined views on refugees and asylum issues.

The finding comes after several recent protests outside facilities housing asylum seekers, and a large counterprotest in support of refugees in Dublin last weekend.

A strong majority of respondents to the poll (79 per cent) also say that Ireland should “live up to its international obligations to protect people who are at risk”.

But there are also high levels of concern about the number of asylum seekers and refugees coming to Ireland and a large majority of respondents (84 per cent) say there is a limit to the number Ireland can cope with.

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Voters remain opposed to giving military assistance to Ukraine by a clear majority.

The responses to the poll questions show strong concerns to help and protect refugees and people seeking asylum, but also a concern about Ireland’s ability to cope with the large numbers that have arrived in the last 12 months. As well as more than 70,000 refugees from the war in Ukraine, there has been a surge in people arriving from elsewhere who are seeking asylum here under international law, with in excess of 13,000 arriving last year.

Along with other EU countries, the Government last year decided to automatically grant refugee status to Ukrainians, while people from other countries must go through a sometimes lengthy process, often taking years, to decide whether they qualify for refugee status.

Asked if “protests should be allowed or not allowed in front of direct provision centres” seven out of 10 voters (70 per cent) said that the protests should not be allowed, with less than a quarter (24 per cent) saying they should be allowed. Six per cent had no opinion.

Voters were also asked if they agreed or disagreed with statements about the refugee issue.

Almost four in five voters (79 per cent) agree that “it is important that Ireland lives up to its international obligations to protect people who are at risk”, with just 14 per cent disagreeing. These figures are very similar to those recorded in July of last year when the question was last asked.

But a majority of voters disagree with Government policy to treat Ukrainians differently — 53 per cent say this it “not okay”, while 38 per cent agree. These figures show some movement from last July when just 27 per cent of respondents agreed with treating Ukrainians differently and 66 per cent disagreed.

The poll shows clearly public concern at the scale of refugee arrivals. More than two-thirds of voters (68 per cent — up from 60 per cent last year) say they are “concerned that too many asylum seekers and refugees might come to Ireland”, while 84 per cent agree “there is a limit to the number of asylum seekers and refugees Ireland can cope with”, a figure identical to last July’s.

More than seven in 10 voters (71 per cent) favour a cap on the number of Ukrainians Ireland accepts, a slight decline from last year.

A clear majority (54 per cent) oppose giving military assistance to Ukraine, with less than a third (32 per cent) in favour —findings consistent with similar questions in a poll last year and which suggest that public aversion to military involvement abroad remains strong despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The poll was conducted among 1,200 adults at 120 sampling points across all constituencies between February 19th-21st. Respondents were interviewed at their own homes. The accuracy is estimated at plus or minus 2.8 per cent.

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