Irish people's attitudes to immigrants among lowest in Europe

Irish people's attitudes to immigrants among lowest in Europe

ATTITUDES towards immigrants in Ireland are among the least positive in Europe, according to a new report.

The study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found that 58 percent of Irish-born adults support white foreigners moving to the country - but only 41 percent for Muslims and 25 percent for Roma people.

That means the support for both Muslim and Roma immigrants is lower in Ireland than in at least 10 other western European nations.

The research, Attitudes to Diversity in Ireland, found Irish-born people's education, financial security and level of contact with other ethnic groups played a part in their opinion.

Frequent contact with people of different races and ethnic groups is directly associated with more positive attitudes, according to the data.

Around one in four Irish-born citizens have contact with someone from another race or ethnicity every day, with 58 percent reporting contact at least weekly.

The ESRI's Helen Russell says the recession over the last decade also had an impact on attitudes.

She said: "We found that during the boom time attitudes towards immigration were becoming more favourable and then with the recession they dropped down.

"When you compare it to other countries across Western Europe we actually then fell below the average so attitudes here were more negative."

Interestingly, no significant difference in attitudes regarding immigrants was found between rural and urban areas in Ireland.

Finally, the report found that just under half of Irish-born adults believe some cultures to be superior to others, while 45 percent believe some races are born harder working than others.

The ESRI said that both figures are somewhat above the European average measured in 10 other EU states.