THE VAST majority (72 per cent) of people want to see a reduction in the number of non-Irish immigrants living here, according to an Irish Times /Behaviour Attitudes opinion poll.
Overall, a total of 43 per cent say they would like to see some, but not all, immigrants leave the State, while 29 per cent would like to see most immigrants leave. In contrast, just over a quarter (26 per cent) would like to see the number of immigrants remain as it is.
In a reversal of trends from polls in recent years, younger people’s attitudes towards immigration have hardened the most.
For example, 81 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 would like to see the number of immigrants fall, compared to 69 per cent in the 25-44 age group. People in rural areas and those from less well-off backgrounds are also more likely to support a reduction in the number of foreign workers based here.
The findings are contained in a national poll on “Ireland Today” of 1,004 adults. It was conducted between October 12th and 26th this year at 100 sampling points across the State. The economic downturn is so acute it is causing many to consider leaving the country.
A total of 13 per cent say they are likely to emigrate over the next five years. Some 40 per cent of those in the 18-24 age group say they are likely to emigrate, while 15 per cent say they don’t know what they will do. The proportion of people likely to emigrate falls to 22 per cent among 25-34-year-olds.
When asked what had become more important in your life compared to a year ago, most people (77 per cent) chose financial security from a list of 18 topics.
Other items which people rate highly include the health service (70 per cent), financial independence (67 per cent) and time spent with family and friends.
As the downturn takes it toll with job losses and lower earnings, this poll shows the precarious financial position facing many people. For example, one-third say they have no savings at all. Of those with savings, the average amount saved by an adult was just under €8,000.