Irish faith in the EU holds firm

Public attitudes towards the EU have grown more positive since the UK's Brexit vote

While only 28 per cent of people agree with the notion that Ireland would have a better future outside the EU the level of distrust in the institution remains relatively high at 38 per cent, according to a new Eurobarometer poll. Photograph: iStock

While only 28 per cent of people agree with the notion that Ireland would have a better future outside the EU the level of distrust in the institution remains relatively high at 38 per cent, according to a new Eurobarometer poll. Photograph: iStock

 

Irish people have become more positive about the European Union since the decision of our nearest neighbours to leave and there appears to be little likelihood of an Irexit movement gaining traction in the short term, according to the latest Eurobarometer poll.

There are no grounds for complacency, however, as the poll shows a significant minority who might be persuaded to take a more negative view of the EU if circumstances change.

The poll, which was conducted last November and published this week, shows that 59 per cent of Irish people have a positive image of the EU. This is significantly above the EU average of 40 per cent.

Only 9 per cent of Irish people have a negative image of the EU, the lowest proportion saying this since the financial crisis of 2008-2010.

Other positive indicators are that 62 per cent of Irish people feel some attachment to the EU, the highest proportion expressing this view for 15 years, while 63 per cent of people feel the EU responds to this country’s needs.

An even higher proportion, 66 per cent, disagree with the notion that Ireland could best face the future outside the EU, with 28 per cent of citizens expressing agreement with the idea. This is in stark contrast to public opinion in Britain.

The view in Ireland that the EU responds to this country’s interests has grown steadily since the end of the EU-IMF bailout.

Level of distrust

While only 28 per cent of people agree with the notion that Ireland would have a better future outside the EU, the level of distrust in the institution remains relatively high at 38 per cent.

The implication is that if Ireland runs into difficulties with our partners over the future direction of the EU there is some fertile ground for anti-EU campaigners to build on.

Another worrying feature of the poll is that while trust in State institutions and the media has risen over the past five years, there is still a substantial minority who are sceptical.

Trust in the Government and the Dáil has risen but it is still just over 40 per cent in both cases, while political parties command the trust of just over 20 per cent of the population.

This is despite the fact that 72 per cent of people describe the Irish economy as “good” and that Irish people are among the most optimistic in the EU about their economic prospects in the year ahead.

Another interesting finding is that despite all of the controversies surrounding the Gardaí in recent years the force still commands significantly more respect than any of the political institutions.

The media also comes well out of the survey, with confidence in mainstream outlets such as newspapers, radio and television still very strong by comparison with social media, which is distrusted by a substantial majority.

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