Poll: terrorists hide among our refugees
43pc say we are taking in too many migrants
Almost three in five people (59pc) are concerned that terrorists could enter the country under Ireland's programme to resettle refugees, according to a Sunday Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll.
Ireland is to accept 4,000 people over the next two years in response to the crisis in Syria. However, today's nationwide poll has found that a sizable minority (43pc) believes that number is too many. The poll also finds that 34pc believe 4,000 refugees is about the right amount while only 15pc feel it is too few.
Overall, the poll has highlighted a nation divided on the issue. There is a marked difference of opinion between urban and rural people and among younger and older generations.
But the poll has found significant levels of concern in relation the threat of terrorism arising out of Ireland's resettlement and relocation programmes.
The poll was taken between December 5 and January 7, in the aftermath of the Paris attacks and before full details emerged of sex attacks in Cologne, Germany, perpetrated mainly by men of African and Middle Eastern origin.
There is intense anger in Germany, which has admitted over a million refugees, in relation to the attacks.
Yesterday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany's laws should be toughened to make it easier to deport migrants who commit serious crimes, but she refused to retreat from her open-door policy for refugees.
In our poll, asked if they had concerns that terrorists could enter the country using the programme, a significant majority (59pc) said yes; 21pc said no; 15pc said it depends and 5pc did not know or had no opinion.
Half of those polled (49pc) believe that there are already Jihadist terrorists based in the State, while 27pc do not believe there are and 24pc do not know or have no opinion.
Almost half (46pc) are concerned that Ireland could have a terrorist attack similar to that which claimed the lives of 130 people in Paris in November, while 30pc are not worried, 16pc say it depends and 8pc do not know or have no opinion.
The most decisive poll finding is that a large majority (68pc) believes that Ireland does not have the capacity to prevent such an attack, with just 11pc of the view that the country does, while one-fifth (20pc) do not know or have no opinion.
One constant in terms of the perceived threat from terrorism in Ireland is that those in rural areas are more likely to be more fearful compared to those in urban areas.
Rural people are more likely to feel that too many refugees are being allowed in (51pc vs 37pc) and that terrorists could enter under the radar as a result of the resettlement programme (66pc vs 53pc).
In addition, rural people are also more likely to feel that Jihadi terrorists are already here (58pc vs 43pc) and that the country is under threat of a Paris-style attack (53pc vs 41pc).
Paul Moran, Associate Director of Millward Brown, said: "In some ways, those in urban centres, arguably, should have more cause for concern." Mr Moran has also pointed out that the poll found "little appetite" to join in any military defence of Europe: nearly three-in-five (56pc) believe Ireland should remain neutral with just 17pc "more hawkish".
He also said there was "arguably a certain disconnect between the public's perceived vulnerability" and its willingness to act upon it: just 24pc are prepared to unquestionably sacrifice personal privacy in the interest of national security.
The Government has identified 26 locations to house thousands of incoming refugees, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said before Christmas. Ms Fitzgerald said 90 parcels of land were identified as potential sites across the country but only 26 have been deemed suitable by the department. The refugees will be accommodated in: Killarney, Kilkenny, Carlow, Cavan, Monaghan, Carrickmacross, Carrick-on-Shannon, Roscommon, Sligo, Ballina, Castlebar, Ennis, Limerick, Cork, Tralee, Thurles, Portlaoise, Tullamore, Waterford, Naas, Arklow, Mullingar and Dublin.