EDUCATION has topped health for the first time in a crunch poll ahead of the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections next month.
Local polling company LucidTalk is running monthly ‘Tracker’ surveys in the run up to the vote in order to track trends and opinions on key issues during this crucial period.
As part of the survey – commissioned by Chambre Public Affairs – the key research question was asked: ‘Please list the four top issues you consider as important in making your NI Assembly election voting decision’. And the most recent March poll threw up a surprise result.
For the first time ‘Education’ took over from ‘Health’ as the top election issue people were considering. Other major concerns in the run up to May 5 include the economy, the environment and abortion.
Whether it’s the thorny issue of the future of grammar schools and selection tests, tuition fees or integration, what is happening in the classroom and the lecture hall is now at the top of the agenda.
Sam Fitzsimmons, Communications Director of the Integrated Education Fund, said that he did not find the result surprising.
“‘We regularly liaise with local communities across Northern Ireland regarding education issues,” he said.
“Through our community engagement projects the IEF are increasingly finding that more and more people are becoming involved with education issues in their local areas. There are also many local developments currently happening in education that are engaging people, like school merger plans.”
Will Chambre, Managing Director of Chambre Public Affairs, said that the poll “assists organisations we work with as well as informing the wider public”.
“As well as education, key issues emerging in the last March poll included health, economy, jobs, and coming in just behind these marriage equality, the environment, abortion, and infrastructure in that order,” he said.
Bill White of LucidTalk added that the Tracker polls are also researching political party preference, party leader ratings, EU Referendum views, and other issues relating to the coming electoral events in May and June.
“The benefit of doing our monthly tracker polls is that we can determine trends up and down which are useful in determining what way the campaigns are progressing,” he said.
“The issues question is useful in that it shows what people are really thinking about in their lives as being important to them. Our March poll showed that Education is right up there as a top issue alongside health, the economy and jobs.”