Half of Republic’s voters support border checks, according to poll

The latest survey show Sinn Féin supporters backing checkpoints on the north-south frontier

The Department of Justice has denied that gardai will be assigned to physically police the border with Northern Ireland
There is support in the Republic for checks on the border. PICTURE: BRIAN LAWLESS/PA (Brian Lawless/PA)

Half of voters in the Republic, including a majority of Sinn Féin supporters, want checkpoints on the border to limit the number of asylum seekers coming from the north, according to an opinion poll.

The survey also shows strong support in the south for a ‘Rwanda-style’ policy to deter migrants.

An overwhelming 82% of people questioned want immigrants who have crossed the border into the Republic from Northern Ireland to be deported back to the UK.

The latest Sunday Independent/Ireland Thinks opinion poll was conducted in a week which saw the Dublin and London governments embroiled in a row over immigration.

The vast majority of respondents (72%) believe Justice Minister Helen McEntee’s claim that 80% of recent immigrants have arrived in the Republic, from Britain, via the north.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has come in for criticism
The Republic's Minister for Justice Helen McEntee

The poll finds 50% want checkpoints on the border to deter migrants – a move some 52% of Sinn Féin voters would support.

The research found 40% support for a policy similar to that planned by the Tories in the UK which aims to deport migrants to Rwanda, with 42% opposing such a proposal and 17% unsure.

The Irish government and Sinn Féin have firmly ruled out checkpoints on the border and a Rwanda-style policy.

However, the public is divided on the proposed EU Migration and Asylum Pact — 36% say the Republic should join, 31% are against, and 33% are unsure.

Sinn Féin intends to vote against the coalition government’s proposal to opt the Republic fully into the EU pact because Mary Lou McDonald’s part argues that the south must “retain sovereignty” over our immigration system.

Sinn Féin’s divergence from the government on the issue has seen the party double its lead over Fine Gael in the past month — with Fianna Fáil, which won 27% of the vote in the last local elections, now facing the prospect of losing up to 100 seats in the local elections next month.

Polling on the state of the parties has Sinn Féin up three points to on 29%; Fine Gael down two on 19%; independents up two points on 19%, and Fianna Fáil unchanged on 16%.

The Social Democrats lead the smaller parties with an unchanged 6%, ahead of the Green Party on a stable 4%, Aontú down one point on 3%.

As an issue of concern, immigration (41%) is up 15 points in a month, second only to housing (54%), down five points, and well ahead of healthcare 29%, down two points.