Dáil Survey Shows Positive Attitude Towards Immigrants
By Michelle Meagher, Editorial Assistant
December / January 2013
It’s an issue of significant division within the US government, but a recent survey of Irish elected officials found largely positive attitudes towards reforms that would benefit immigrants living in Ireland. The survey, led by international research agency Millward Brown, polled a sampling of 71 Irish TDs (the elected officials of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish Parliament) via phone. Over half said that they had personally addressed the issue of immigrant rights in the Dáil since 2011, and another 7 percent said they intended to do so in the future.
When it came to education, 82 percent agreed that if the children of immigrants had already completed second-level education in Ireland, they shouldn’t have to pay international fees for third-level education. In addition, the survey noted the TDs’ support of diversifying and expanding school curriculum to reflect Ireland’s increased range of faith and culture.
More than half of the participants indicated support for allowing asylum-seekers to work while waiting for their visas, and 65 percent said they were in favor of fast-tracking the visa process for qualified immigrants.
The main point of contention concerned the question of which government body should oversee immigration issues. Thirty-eight percent agreed that the Minister for Justice should have the final say on citizenship approvals, while another 38 percent disagreed. Killian Forde, CEO of The Integration Centre, an NGO that advocates the integration of immigrants into Irish society, told the Irish Times that this division spoke to “a gap between the local authorities and national government on the issue of integration.”
Seventy-five percent of the TDs agreed that immigrants will be crucial in Ireland’s path to economic recovery.