Key findings include:
Attitudes to immigration and migrants have been impacted by recession and recovery. The positive perception of immigrants’ contribution to the economy increased between 2002 and 2006, before decreasing in 2008 with the onset of the recession. The most negative attitudes towards migration were registered in 2010, with attitudes becoming more positive as the economic outlook improved.
Attitudes vary significantly towards specific groups. With 58% of those surveyed showing support for immigrants of the same ethnic group as the majority population in Ireland, contrasting with 41% support for Muslim and 25% support for Roma migrants. Support for Muslim and Roma immigration is lower in Ireland than the average for ten other Western European countries surveyed.
Frequent contact with people of different races/ ethnic groups is directly associated with more positive attitudes, if the contact is positive. Around one in four Irish born people have contact with someone from another race or ethnicity every day, with 58% reporting contact at least weekly.
No age, rural/urban or ideological divide. There was no statistically significant difference between the attitudes of people of different ages, in rural or urban areas in levels of support for immigration. Similarly, there is no clear link between left-right political views and support as is seen in other European States.
Regarding beliefs about race and ethnicity, just under half of adults born in Ireland believe some cultures to be superior to others while 45% believe some races are born harder working than others. Both figures are somewhat above the European average measured in ten other States.
The report’s analysis includes lessons stemming from the findings for Ireland:
Ireland is also due to be examined by the UN under the State’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) and this report’s findings will also inform the Commission’s submission to this UN expert committee.
Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:
“To support an integrated society, it is important for us to know how people in Ireland feel about changes in the population, and to understand the kind of social, economic and cultural factors which influence attitudes to diversity. This report offers an understanding of the prevailing attitudes to diversity and how those attitudes are formed, and will help the Commission in its mission to build a fair and inclusive society that protects and promotes human rights and equality.”
Lead author of the report, Frances McGinnity of the ESRI stated:
“Attitudes to minority groups are important as they can influence behaviour like recruitment decisions and voting, as well as how welcome minority groups feel. Given recent negative public debate about immigration in parts of Europe and the US, the ongoing monitoring of attitudes to migrants remains important as an indicator of the challenges that need to be addressed in order to support migrant integration and social cohesion in Ireland.”