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66% want immigration clampdown

Resource type: News

Irish Examiner |

by Shaun Connolly TWO-THIRDS of the population want immigration restricted, a wide-ranging survey exposing Ireland’s contradictory attitude to becoming a multicultural society has revealed. Despite the call for a clampdown, 54% believe the country’s decade-long experience of mass migration has been good for the republic, with one in three saying it has had a negative impact. Almost six in 10 people, 59%, think the Government is not doing enough to integrate the new Irish, while 72% are worried about the impact immigration is having on the health service. A further 65% expressed similar concerns regarding education. However, 38% of respondents believe a future taoiseach or president of the republic will emerge from the descendents of immigrants, with 33% disagreeing, according to the survey of 1,000 people, conducted by Amarach Research. The extent of support for curbs on migration came as Social and Family Affairs Minister Mary Hanafin attacked Fine Gael enterprise spokesman Leo Varadkar for suggesting a “racist” initiative to pay unemployed migrants a lump sum to return home. “The only people he could be talking about are the non-EU nationals, which must mean he was talking about the Africans, which means it’s a racist comment. And, I think he would really want to think where he’s putting his foot before he puts it in his mouth,” said Ms Hanafin. “It is undoubtedly racist to do it. We are delighted to have these people, they are making a contribution to our economy. “The Irish were never rejected anywhere when things got difficult for them,” said the minister. Mr Varadkar strongly denied Ms Hanafins charge. “It’s quite defamatory of her and a bit hysterical. There already is a European fund for voluntary repatriation, so it also shows how ignorant she is,” said the Fine Gael TD. With Ireland experiencing the net inward migration of 457,000 people since 1996, a little less than a third of those surveyed, 30%, thought the Government was doing enough to encourage integration, while 11% believed it was doing too much. The bulk of people – 61% – feel integration has only occurred to a limited extent but will go further, while 22% believe it has gone as far as it can and 10% think hardly any integration has taken place at all. More than two-thirds of those questioned – 70% – said they were not aware of any attempts to encourage integration in their communities by church, council or social groups. Responding to the findings, the director of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism, Philip Watt, said while the views expressed did sound contradictory, they reflected a “misplaced” degree of anxiety about employment in the economic downturn. “It is misplaced as migrants stop coming to countries where there are few jobs – as exemplified by the dramatic fall in PPS numbers given to migrants recently,” said Mr Watt. “But, it is perhaps surprising there has not been more trouble, given the changes that have occurred, with Ireland going from having 1% of its population non-Irish, to 10% or 12% in the space of a decade,” he said.