Politics watch: Immigration continues to dominate agenda

Politics Watch: Immigration Continues To Dominate Agenda
Here, we have a look at the issues that will dominate Dáil proceedings this week.
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James Cox

Here, we have a look at the issues that will dominate Dáil proceedings this week.


The immigration issue is proving to be hugely divisive, and it is a big problem for both Government and the Opposition.


Government has been trying to strike a balance, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pledging a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Mr Varadkar said they are targeting people who are trying to “abuse the generosity” of the Irish system.

However, the worrying trend of arson on buildings earmarked for asylum seekers is something ministers have pledged to tackle.

The latest occurred at a vacant home in Co Kildare which was burnt out.


Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said those involved will be brought to justice, while she claimed anti-refugee protesters "know exactly" who is behind the string of arson attacks.

Sinn Féin has previously taken a pro-immigration stance. The party had previously called for all refugees to be granted the same supports Ukrainians were granted after Russia's invasion, before they were recently cut.

However, Mary Lou McDonald and senior figures in the party have recently shifted, saying they understand people's concerns around immigration.

A survey for The Irish Times shows that Sinn Féin’s support has fallen by six points, to 28 per cent since last September.


The party’s support has fallen in the last five opinion polls, and from a high of 36 per cent in 2022.

Recent polls also show an increase in public concern over immigration issues, with one poll showing that the majority of people want tighter immigration rules in Ireland.

Sinn Féin appears to be losing out over its immigration policy, particularly with younger voters who are moving towards parties such as Labour and Social Democrats.

The issue will likely be to the fore in Dáil discussions this week.


Over 100 community activists from across the country gathered in Dublin on Sunday to protest against the far-right.

Communities Against Racism Ireland has been launched to tackle the hateful divisions developing in many towns around the country.

Sinn Féin motion on TV licence fee

On Tuesday, Sinn Féin are set to table a motion for the TV licence fee to be scrapped and replaced by Exchequer funding to support public service media.

After the RTÉ pay scandal, such a move would have plenty of public support.


Some of the other opposition parties may also back Sinn Féin, but with Government and Independent votes, it is unlikely to pass.


In the UK, the Conservative Party and Labour are continuing to spar ahead of a general election which is likely to be called this year.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak is facing plenty of internal pressure from his own party too after the launch of the 'Popular Conservatives' faction of the party which includes his predecessor Liz Truss and former minister Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Meanwhile, former British chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng  has called on Mr Sunak to bring former prime minister Boris Johnson back into the fold ahead of the general election.

In the US, Democrats are rushing to the defence of US president Joe Biden after a special counsel’s explosive claims that the 81-year-old president could not remember major milestones in his life.

The president set the angry tone hours after special counsel Robert Hur’s report was released, dismissing its conclusions about his memory and insisting he had not forgotten the year his son Beau died, as Mr Hur claimed.

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump continues to court controversy.

At a rally in Conway, North Carolina over the weekend, Mr Trump revealed that during his first term as US president, he warned Nato allies that he “would encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to countries that are “delinquent”.


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