Saturday 24 February 2018

Revealed: From Brexit fallout to immigration, the Irish are more optimistic than most

British PM Theresa May with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin Photo: Gerry Mooney
British PM Theresa May with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin Photo: Gerry Mooney

Alan O'Keeffe

ONLY 13pc of Irish people believe the Irish economy will "worsen" despite the impending exit of Britain from the European Union.

The Irish are "bucking the trend" once again in Europe in terms of having more optimistic attitudes for the economy and being far more positive about immigration and freedom of movement.

A major Eurobarometer survey carried out in all EU states in November showed the Irish to be remarkably supportive of EU membership despite the Brexit vote, controversies about immigrants and refugees in the EU, and the rise of populist anti-status quo movements in Europe.

In spite of the Brexit vote, three times more Irish people believe the economy will get better compared to the numbers who believe it will worsen.

The figures showed 38pc think the Irish economy will improve contrasting with just 13pc who believe it will disimprove. And 45pc think it will "stay the same."

Overall, 64pc of Irish people classify the Irish economy as "good" which is significantly higher that the EU average assessment that shows only 41pc of Europeans believe their own economy is "good."

Freedom of movement of people between countries has very high support across Europe. Some 90pc of Irish people are in favour of freedom of movement which is above the EU average of 81pc.

Eighty-one percent of Irish people have a positive view of immigration from within the EU,  20 points above the EU average.

Meanwhile, 57pc of Irish people have a positive view of immigration from outside the EU, also 20 points above the EU average.

Some 77pc of Irish people agree with the proposition that immigrants contribute a lot to Ireland, substantially above the EU average of 44pc.

Dr Stephen Quinlan, author of the report on the Irish results in the EU survey, said "we're bucking the trend" by showing high positive showings for the EU generally, even though enthusiasm for the EU has not returned to the even higher levels that existed before the global economic crisis.

Irish attitudes have become more and more positive as the economy improves, he said today.

Some 55pc of Irish people have a positive attitude of the EU, which is more than 20 points higher than the EU average.

The more education people have, the more positive they are about the EU, he said.

In terms of trust, more Irish people trust the EU (49pc) than distrust it (42pc), reversing the trend that developed during the financial crisis.

There is little sign of the Euroscepticism that was mushrooming across the EU as 67pc of Irish people disagree with the idea that Ireland could best face the future outside the EU.

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