One of the markers of the rise of the extreme right across Europe has been a concomitant drop in positive attitudes towards immigration. And, according to a new study of 12 European countries from the University of Limerick, the Republic has seen the most dramatic change:
Ireland, with Greece, experienced the largest decrease in positive attitudes to allowing immigrants into their countries during the time [2002-2010].
Alongside this change, Ireland had the highest proportion of respondents (49 per cent) who believed immigrants were “good” for the economy in 2006. However, this dropped by more than half, to 23 per cent by 2010, which was below the average for the 12 European countries (25 per cent).
The number of people who believed immigrants are “bad” for the economy also increased by 10 per cent in the 12 countries, between 2002 and 2010. In Ireland, the percentage of respondents with negative attitudes more than doubled from 16 per cent in 2006 to 38 per cent in 2010.
Authors of the study Drs Cross and Turner conclude that:
The determinants of social attitudes should be an important consideration for governments in the development of successful policies aimed at the social and economic integration of immigrants, something that is critical to the development of the EU.
Now is the time for this issue to be scrutinised by our politicians, as the changing demographic profile of the EU is likely to be the focus of the upcoming European Parliament election campaign.
[You mean like the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration that's working so well for Northern Ireland? - Ed] Erm, well yes. Or something.