Friday 22 September 2017

Unemployed and low-paid resistant to immigration

Poll reveals 'well-heeled' more likely to welcome refugees here - but integration into society remains a challenge

TOGETHER: Dr Ali Selim sees great value in integration Picture: Tom Burke
TOGETHER: Dr Ali Selim sees great value in integration Picture: Tom Burke
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

The unemployed and people in low-paying jobs are most resistant to immigrants coming to Ireland as the country's attitude to immigration becomes divisive, according to a new Sunday Independent/Kantar Millward Brown poll.

More than half (53pc) of Ireland's unemployed or low-skilled workers are concerned that immigrants are more likely to claim social welfare payments.

The poll shows those from more affluent backgrounds view immigration as a good thing, with 61pc of professional classes believing a mix of races, ethnic groups and nationalities helps make Ireland a better place to live.

Less than half (46pc) of those in unskilled jobs or in receipt of social welfare are as positive about a more cosmopolitan society.

However, there is some concern about the integration of immigrants in Irish communities.

Only 19pc of the public think enough is being done to help Muslims living in Ireland adapt to Irish life.

More than half (53pc) of those polled said Islamic leaders could do more to help with integration.

The poll shows that while 54pc of people would not object to refugee centres being established in their communities, there is widespread concern about people fleeing from troubled parts of the world seeking solace in Ireland.

It comes as the Government has committed to relocating 4,000 refugees to Ireland before the end of this year.

A poll of 960 adults shows people fear increased immigration from the Middle East and Africa may lead to a terror attack in Ireland, similar to those in Nice, Berlin and Paris in recent times.

When asked if they are concerned at the possibility of terrorists exploiting Ireland's migrant programme, 62pc said yes. One-quarter (26pc) said they were not worried.

Dr Ali Selim, a senior member of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh, Dublin, said people had no need to be concerned and huge efforts were being made to make Ireland a more inclusive place for Muslims living here.

"The existence of the Muslim community in this country dates back to the 1950s. Since then, we have not had one single incident in this country.

"We do have our weekend schools, we do have our youth clubs and we are in constant discussions with the young people of our community. They attend Irish schools and they are occupied in a wide range of various sectors in Ireland," added Dr Selim.

We don't see them as different or something that does not belong to Irish society, but we see them as an integrated part of the Irish society and this is the philosophy on the face of which we discuss everything with them."

Concern is highest in Leinster (75pc), and among Fianna Fail supporters (74pc), over-65s (71pc), Sinn Fein supporters, and the unemployed/low-paid workers (both 70pc).

The poll also shows there is a strong demand for residents to be involved in planning preparations with local authorities when refugees are being located to their area.

Almost three-quarters of the public (74pc) want to be involved in the planning process.

It comes as new figures brought to the Dail by Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald show 4,127 people were refused entry to the State at ports and airports last year.

More than 3,300 of these were stopped at Dublin Airport.

Ms Fitzgerald confirmed the OPW was in talks with the Dublin Airport Authority about the proposed redevelopment of Transair House at the airport into a dedicated facility to accommodate people detained for matters related to immigration.

An Garda Siochana has told the Tanaiste the redevelopment would meet the requirements of both a garda station and a Garda National Immigration Bureau.

Of those who were refused entry at ports and airports in 2016, most were from Brazil (533), Albania (446), South Africa (329), the United States (266), and Pakistan (180).

A total of 561 asylum seekers from Jordan have been resettled in Ireland since Ms Fitzgerald made the commitment to resettle thousands of refugees here before the end of 2017.

A further 320 have been relocated from Greece to Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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