“Oh I wouldn’t know enough about that”, the answer The College View was inundated with when polling students across campus for our General Election survey last week.
Almost 45 per cent of students polled said they have not decided whom they will vote for in the upcoming election. Fine Gael fared best in our survey with 17 per cent of student signaling their support for the party. Fine Gael have consistently topped the national polls in the run-up to the general election.
12 per cent of DCU students said their support was with Sinn Féin for the Friday vote. 58 per cent of students said that college fees are an issue they will be mindful of when voting. Sinn Fein may attribute their favourable position to their anti-student loan stance and their promise to abolish student fees.
Sinn Fein were closely followed by Fianna Fáil, whom 11 per cent of students said they will be supporting. “Am goin’ to vote for Fianna Fáil because my father does,” one student told his friends when completing the survey paper. Michael Martin, leader of Fianna Fail has been praised for his performance in the media during the campaign trail.
Support for the incumbent Labour party is just 6 per cent among DCU students. Female support was at 9 per cent while male support was at 3 per cent. Labour have committed to holding a referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment, should they be re-elected. In our survey, 49 per cent of female students saw the 8th Amendment as a main issue, in comparison to 36 per cent of males students.
College fees are the most important issue to DCU students in the upcoming election. 60 per cent said that fees are something they will consider when voting. Student fees were raised by €1000 in the term of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition.
Healthcare is also an area of concern to students with 47 per cent saying that it was a main issue for them. Overcrowding in hospitals, medical cards, prescription charges and the HSE are some of the main national issues that have dominated the dialogue in the area of health in this general election.
Job security was more important to males. 51 per cent said it was an issue for them, while 29 per cent of females listed it as important. In the past four years, over 300,000 people have emigrated from Ireland; 40 per cent were aged between 15 and 24. The current unemployment rate is 8.6 per cent with a 27.1 per cent decrease in people on the live register, since 2011. The controversial JobBridge scheme introduced by the coalition aimed to reduce unemployment figures after the economic crash. However the scheme has drawn many critics as it has a culture of featuring low-paid or unpaid work.
30 per cent of students think housing and homelessness is an issue that will influence which party they vote for while other issues such as transport and mental health came in at 4 per cent. The death of Jonathan Corrie in December 2014 sparked public outrage about the homelessness crisis in Ireland. The government vowed to tackle the crisis in the wake of this but the epidemic is still prevalent.
The College View polled 245 students across the Glasnevin campus. An even mix of both males and females were surveyed. Students from each faculty were represented in the poll. Students from a variety of age brackets were surveyed to ensure adequate representation.
Katie O’Neill and Catherine Devine