Direct Questions.

In Blog, Politicsby Fedayn8 Comments

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The headline in Saturday’s Irish Times was disappointing. It turns out it was also incorrect.

Stephen Collins misrepresented the Ipsos MRBI poll carried out for the IT when he wrote:

A majority of voters believe asylum seekers should be kept under direct State provision rather than being allowed to work or claim benefits, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

Asked what they think should happen, 54 per cent said they should be kept under direct provision, 31 per cent said they should be given refugee status and allowed to work and claim benefits while 15 per cent had no opinion.

In fact, the question they were asked was:

“Q16. I’d now like you to think about people who come to Ireland seeking asylum. If their application is refused and they appeal this decision or apply to stay in Ireland, which of the following do you think should happen while their appeal/application is being processed?”

The respondents were given two answers to pick from (or ‘Don’t Know’):

“They should be kept under direct provision. They should be given refugee status and allowed to work/claim benefits.”

This appears to be a manipulation of a survey question, a survey answer and finally the misreporting of both. At no point in the reporting is the reader informed that the question is about asylum seekers who have had their application refused. Similarly respondents are forced to agree with Direct Provision if they have doubts about granting people refugee status who, it seems from the question, might not deserve it.

There’s further analysis from Hired Knave on this here. Stephen has some form. From the same survey (available in pdf here) he discerned the following headline for the Irish Times’ pre-budget myhome dot eye ee developer humping section.



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However a look at table 29/3 shows us that while 14% of respondents did reply positively to the first option presented to them ‘Reduce income taxes’ a larger 15% plumped for answer 13 ‘Increase spending on healthcare (nurses, doctors)’. Indeed, 38% of answers called for increases in various public spending as seen in the charts below.

Interesting to note that the public spending options were all listed after the tax-cutting ones.




Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 18.58.56Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 18.58.41 Hat tip to Eoin for the MRBI link.


  1. That’s not how I would’ve described him but I’m not sure how tolerant you are of 4-letter words.

  2. Eveanna De Barra Kumar & Maeve O’Brien you’ll like this…

  3. Anyone who’s read a little of Stephen Collins knows he’s a right-wing government sycophant.

  4. Polls … a useful way for marketeers and politicians to take action based on ‘research’ as oppose to good judgement and self-assured leadership, the types of qualities that people want from their parliamentarians.
    I’m a firm believer that in the connected world, where censorship is not an issue, it is vital the leaders and indeed journalists are able to read the people and understand their mood without polls. If a they are relying on polls to guide their thinking, they are clearly out of touch and lack a fundamental skill required for their job.

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