The attitude of Irish people towards immigrants and immigration has become increasingly negative in the past few years, according to the results of a new survey.
The report, carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), found that while Irish attitudes towards immigrants were overall extremely positive between 2002 and 2006, since then opinions have nosedived.
Between 2002 and 2010, the number of Irish people who are opposed to immigrants from different ethnic backgrounds entering the country more than trebled, from 6 per cent to almost 20 per cent.
“The evidence seems to suggest that rapid growth in the immigrant population, followed by economic recession, has resulted in increased concerns about, and resistance to, immigration in Ireland,” said Dr Frances McGinnity, author of the report.
The report found that highly-educated groups in Ireland have more positive attitudes to immigrants and immigration, while lower-educated groups are less positive. Younger adults also tend to show more positive attitudes towards immigrants and immigration, while the over 65-group have the most negative attitudes.
It is estimated that in 2011 around 9,500 nationals of countries from outside the European Economic Association (EEA) acquired Irish citizenship – almost 5,000 more than in the year previously.
According to the ESRI’s report, some 172,000 immigrants left Ireland between 2008 and 2012 while 140,000 came in. During the same period, over 136,000 Irish people left the country while 81,100 came in.