Third of TDs 'afraid' to back immigrant rights
Published 12/12/2011 | 05:00
OVER a third of TDs say speaking up for immigrants will cost them votes.
And just 4pc of Dail deputies responding to a new survey on attitudes to immigrants said they would pick up support if they backed migrant right issues.
The findings come in the wake of the controversy over comments made by Fine Gael's Darren Scully, the former mayor of Naas.
Mr Scully said he would no longer pass on representations from "black Africans" because of their "aggressive attitude".
The survey was commissioned by The One Foundation, a private philanthropic fund based in Dublin, and was carried out by polling company Millward Brown-Lansdowne.
Some 74 TDs from a total of 166 responded to the survey, and 36pc said speaking out in favour of immigrants to Ireland would cost them votes in their constituencies, while just 4pc said it would win them more support.
Two-thirds of the respondents said they had encountered racism on the doorsteps when canvassing for February's general election, and only one in five targeted naturalised Irish voters for support during the election campaign.
However, 31pc believe immigration is set to become a contentious issue in future elections.
Three-quarters of TDs also said more could be done to foster trade links between immigrants and their home countries, and that immigrants had an important role to play in any economic recovery, while two-thirds say immigrant skills aren't being fully used in Ireland.
Killian Forde, CEO of the Integration Centre, said the Government needed to improve its integration policies.
Mr Forde, who is a former Sinn Fein and Labour councillor, said the survey results "show politicians believe that immigrants are a potential resource to aid in Ireland's recovery".