Thursday 19 October 2017

Paris attacks have led to decline in trust of immigrants here

A sign on the Arc de Triomphe reads
A sign on the Arc de Triomphe reads "Paris is Charlie" in solidarity with the victims of the shooting at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Gerard O’Neill

Did the recent attacks in Paris change Irish views on immigration? The short answer is 'yes', at least for 30pc of all Irish adults in a recent Amárach poll. However, the long answer requires us to step back and examine the experience of immigration in Ireland, and some of the differences between our experience and those of Britain.

First of all, we need to distinguish between immigration from the rest of the EU, and immigration from outside the EU. A ComRes poll towards the end of last year found that only 17pc of Britons thought the current level of immigration from the rest of the EU was "good for Britain", similarly only 16pc thought immigration from outside the EU was good for Britain. In contrast, the Amárach poll shows that the majority (53pc) of Irish people think the current level of immigration from the rest of the EU is "good for Ireland", falling to 32pc for the current level of immigration from outside the EU.

Ireland and Britain were among the few countries to completely open their borders to workers from all EU countries upon the accession of 10 central and East European countries back in May 2004. Ten years on, what has been the impact? In the same ComRes survey, only one in four Britons felt the contribution of immigrants in the previous 10 years had been positive for the British economy, 40pc felt it was negative. Here in Ireland, over a third (35pc) see a positive contribution from immigrants looking back 10 years, only 30pc view it as negative.

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