As Ireland prepares for what will be the toughest budget in history today, many are calling for dramatic cuts to overseas aid, arts and sports funding, according to a survey conducted by Irish Examiner readers.

Over half of the participants choose overseas aid as one of the three areas that should receive the highest level of cuts in today’s budget, followed by the arts at 46 percent and sport at 32 percent.

Help for the unemployed and personal tax were areas highly ranked as deserving most protection from cuts.

More than half of respondents listed health services as the area they wanted protected from budget cuts, followed closely by care of the disabled and elderly.

Child protection, business, child benefit, Gardaí and armed forces, public transport and road maintenance were all listed as areas that should be protected in today's budget.

The survey also found that there was strong support for the formation of a national government instead of another election, with 46 percent in favor. But 84 percent thought it was a good idea to have an election early next year.

Almost two-in-five of those surveyed said they were actively considering emigration, which reflects the high levels of emigration that Ireland has witnessed in the past 18-months.

A total of 61 percent of participants answered in the negative when they were asked if they thought young people had a real future in Ireland.

More than a thousand people responded to the online Irish Examiner poll.

Responding to the results, GOAL chief executive John O'Shea admitted that cuts to overseas aid were inevitable considering the dire economic circumstances.

"A cut of €35m isn’t very serious if it’s spread across the board. But if the IMF has decided Ireland can no longer afford overseas development and cuts it in half, I don’t want to see Irish organisations with a proven record being jettisoned and money still being given to priority countries, some of which get blank cheques that allow them spend Irish taxpayers’ money however they choose," he said.

"Before taking a penny of the aid budget there has to be a forensic examination of where it is effective and where it is risky, like the tens of millions that are routed through governments that are known to be brutal and corrupt," he said.