TDs positive towards immigrants
A substantial number of TDs support equal access to third level education for the children of immigrants, according to a new survey.
The research, conducted by Millward Brown, shows a broadly positive attitude towards immigrants among 71 TDs who responded to a phone questionnaire. More than 50 per cent said they had spoken on immigrant rights in the Dáil since 2011 while 7 per cent said they intended to speak on the matter in future.
Some 82 per cent said they disagreed that children of migrant workers should have to pay international fees for third level education if they have already completed second level in Ireland.
The survey recorded support for more robust integration initiatives, with 68 per cent of respondents agreeing the school curriculum should be expanded to reflect the diversity of faith and culture in Ireland and 75 per cent agreeing that diversity training should be mandatory for all frontline staff.
Almost 60 per cent felt asylum seekers should be allowed to work while waiting for their applications to be processed, while 65 per cent of TDs believed highly qualified newcomers should have their applications for full working visas fast-tracked.
Three quarters agreed immigrants have an important role to play in the recovery of the Irish economy and 63 per cent believe immigrants’ skills are under-utilised. Nearly half feel the media does not cover issues affecting asylum seekers positively.
The survey also recorded a division of opinion over which authority should have responsibility for immigrant issues, with 38 per cent of respondents agreeing and the same number disagreeing that the Minister for Justice should have absolute discretion over citizenship approvals.
One in three TDs are unfamiliar with anti-racism strategies in their own constituencies and more than half believe there is a need for a national body to co-ordinate local authority integration policies.
Launching the findings, Integration Centre chief executive Killian Forde said the Offices for the Promotion of Migrant Integration should be moved from the Department of Justice to the Department of the Environment, Local Government and Community.
“You have a gap between the local authorities and national government on the issue of integration. The OPMI can’t fulfil that issue in the Justice Department, put them into the Department of the Environment. It makes much more sense,” he said.