Young people more open to immigrants than parents – survey

Irish youth more liberal, engaged in social issues and less influenced by Catholic Church

Just over two-thirds said they were more likely than their parents to vote for politicians who want more progressive change in Ireland. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Just over two-thirds said they were more likely than their parents to vote for politicians who want more progressive change in Ireland. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

An overwhelming majority of young Irish people say they are more accepting of immigrants, more liberal and more engaged in campaigning for social issues than their parents, a new survey shows.

Youth Work Ireland, which works with more than 116,000 young people every week through projects and youth clubs, conducted the survey of more than 1,000 young people between the ages of 14-24 to gauge their attitudes towards equality, compared with their parents.

The results show a more liberal attitude towards immigrant, greater political empowerment and a declining influence of the Catholic Church among the country’s youth.

The survey was carried out to coincide with the start of Youth Work Ireland Week 2017 and released with the launch of the group’s “#Equality17” campaign to encourage greater youth activism.

Tolerant

Three in four young people are more accepting of immigrants than their parents, the survey found. Some 80 per cent said that they were more accepting and tolerant of immigrants from Africa, though the number for Muslim immigrants was lower, at two thirds of the young people surveyed.

On their engagement in social activism, 79 per cent of young Irish people said they were more informed about problems and injustices, while 62 per cent said that they were more involved in social issues because social media enables them to support causes more easily.

Almost nine in every 10 young people say they are more empowered to make a difference in society compared with their parents’ generation and 71 per cent said they were more likely to protest or march in support of a cause.

Progressive

Just over two-thirds said they were more likely than their parents to vote for politicians who want more progressive change in Ireland, while 91 per cent said that they were less influenced by the Catholic Church than their parents.

Young people are more accepting than their parents of gay and lesbian people (95 per cent) but less so for transgender people (89 per cent). Their acceptance of Irish Travellers and the Roma community compared with their parents was lower still, at 58 per cent, and 89 per cent for people of colour.

“Young people in Ireland are some of the most tolerant, socially active and socially aware young people in the world. The research shows that young people want to get involved in society,” said Dr Patrick Burke, chief executive of Youth Work Ireland.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, said: “Young people are passionate about the future of our communities, our country and our world. As Minister I am determined to ensure their voices are heard.”