Changing Attitudes in Ireland

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has stated in its new report that attitudes of Irish people are becoming more negative towards immigrants.

Openness to immigration, or willingness to accept immigrants, has fallen in recent years. For example, in 2002 just 6 per cent of Irish nationals said that no immigrants from poor non-EU countries should be allowed into the country, while in 2010 that changed to 22 per cent expressing the same view.

Furthermore, the ESRI report highlighted significant inequalities between Irish and immigrants. A poverty rate that was twice as high amongst immigrants and a slightly higher unemployment rate act as an indicator for that.

During 2011, a total of 9,500 nationals of countries outside the European Economic Association (EEA) acquired Irish citizenship, compared to just under 5,000 in 2010, according to the report.

“The evidence seems to suggest that rapid growth in the immigrant population, followed by economic recession has resulted in increased concerns about, and resistance to, immigration in Ireland”, said the report’s author Dr Frances McGinnity.

Furthermore McGinnity stated: “The change in attitudes is modest, but of concern. It is also worth noting the fact that between 2005 and the end of 2011, 34,500 adults of non-EEA origin acquired Irish citizenship. This represents significant progress towards the integration of immigrants in Ireland”.

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