Irish people among least supportive of immigrants in Europe

The report found people are more supportive of immigrants from their own ethnicity

Irish people among least supportive of immigrants in Europe

File photo of Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, 01-02- 2017. Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography

A new study has found that Irish people are among the least tolerant of immigrants in Europe.

The report from the ESRI and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission found that Irish people's support for immigrants dropped to its lowest level during the depths of the recession.

It found that perceptions became more positive in line with the economy.

According to the study, 58% support white immigrants - but that drops to 41% for Muslims and 25% for Roma migrants.

Those figures are lower than the average recorded in ten other European countries.


The ESRI's Helen Russell says the health of the economy appears to have had a strong impact on attitudes.

"We had figures from 2002 up to 2014 and we found that during the boom time the attitudes towards immigration were becoming more favourable and then with the recession they dropped down," she said.

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


The report has led to calls for the Government to work to ensure better integration into Irish society for immigrants.

Emily Logan from the Irish Human Rights and equality commission says the level of contact with immigrants plays a huge part:

"If people have more social contact with people of other races and other ethnicities, the more positive those interactions are ; the more positively disposed people are and don't mind people coming into the country," she said.

"In terms of integration if you are looking ahead to what should we be doing in terms of integration what we should be doing is looking at community integration; we should be looking at urban planning - things that allow those positive integrations to happen."

The study also found that attitudes to immigrants and immigration are affected by respondents education level and financial security.

The survey also threw up some worrying data regarding beliefs about race and ethnicity.

Just under half of those involved said they believed some cultures were superior to others, while 45% said they believed some races are born harder working than others.