Irish Attitudes to Immigrants Become More Negative

This year’s Annual Monitoring Report on Integration 2012, launched today, uses a range of indicators to measure different aspects of immigrant inclusion in Irish society.

Key Findings:

  • The consistent poverty rate among Non-EU nationals, at over 12%, is almost twice as high as amongst Irish nationals (just over 6%) in 2010, and the gap between Irish and non-EU nationals has widened since 2008. [Consistent poverty is defined as a combination of having a low income and lacking two basic items such as food, clothes or home heating] .
  • Almost one third of first-generation immigrants aged 15 scored below the basic level (1) of English reading proficiency in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests (2009). This compares to almost 1 in 6 of Irish 15-year-olds.
  • At the start of 2012 the unemployment rate was 18.5% among non-Irish nationals, compared to just under 15% for Irish nationals. Overall non-Irish nationals have been harder hit in the labour market by the current recession than Irish nationals.
  • During 2011, 9,500 nationals of countries outside the European Economic Association (EEA) acquired Irish citizenship, compared to just under 5,000 in 2010.

Special Theme in the 2012 Monitor: Changing Irish Attitudes to Immigrants

  • Irish attitudes towards immigrants were very positive in the period 2002-2006, and have become more negative since 2006, the report finds, using data from the European Social Survey.
  • Openness to immigration, or willingness to accept immigrants, has fallen in recent years. For example, in 2002 just 6% of Irish nationals said no immigrants from poor non-EU countries should be allowed: in 2010 22% said none should be allowed into Ireland.
  • Views on the contribution that immigrants make to the economy have become more negative than those on their contribution to cultural life.
  • Highly-educated groups in Ireland have more positive attitudes to immigrants and immigration: lower-educated groups are less positive.
  • Younger adults tend to show more positive attitudes to immigrants and immigration; the over 65 group have the most negative attitudes.
  • Comparing Irish attitudes to those in four other countries (Germany, Netherlands, Spain and the UK), shows that both in terms of attitudes to immigrants and resistance to immigration, Ireland displays some of the more negative attitudes in 2010, similar in many respects to the UK.

Commenting on these findings, report author Dr Frances McGinnity said: “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. 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.” Killian Forde, CEO of The Integration Centre said: “We welcome the fact that the gap in unemployment rates between migrants and Irish has not increased, but that gap remains substantial and real. The key to successful integration is proactive government policy and a tolerant, welcoming host population. On the former we have none, and the latter negative attitudes towards migrants are increasing. The government as a matter of urgency need to create a national policy on integration, and co-ordinate activities between government departments on integration.”

For further information please contact: Helena Clarke (Director of Public Affairs, TIC) , Killian Forde (CEO, TIC) , Frances McGinnity (Senior Research Officer, ESRI), , Philip O’Connell (Director, Geary Institute), ,