The Irish Times view on attitudes to the EU
Just 11 per cent of people now believe that Ireland should follow the UK out of the EU
A mural depicting a European Union flag being chiseled by a workman sits on the side of a disused building near the ferry terminal in Dover, England, last May. Street artist Banksy claimed credit for the mural. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The strong support for Ireland’s continued membership of the European Union shown in an opinion poll this week confirms the trend in other polls conducted since the people of the UK voted for Brexit.
The latest poll commissioned by the European Movement in Ireland shows the number of those who believe that Ireland should follow the UK out of the EU is in a steady decline since the Brexit decision. Just 11 per cent of people now believe that Ireland should follow the UK example.
More surprising is the finding that there is a public willingness to back that sentiment with hard cash and support an increased Irish contribution to the EU budget in the years ahead.
Taoisaech Leo Varadkar has offered to increase the current Irish contribution of €2 billion closer to €3 billion to help the EU make up for the loss of the UK contribution. There is also majority support for Irish engagement in EU military and defence structures. This support was strongest among young and middle-aged people and lowest among those over 65.
Ireland signed up in December to involvement in enhanced EU defence co-operation (Pesco) and it seems a clear majority of citizens do not regard this as incompatible with Irish neutrality for which strong continuing support has been evident in polls. Unsurprisingly, a substantial majority of people think the UK should remain in the EU single market and customs union.
There was an interesting response to the question of whether Brexit has made a united Ireland more likely with an even split of 44 per cent saying it would and it would not. There was a wide difference in the response of different age groups to the question with a minority of those over 35 thinking a united Ireland was more likely and a majority of those under 35 thinking it was.
On the question of whether Ireland should follow the UK out of the EU, just one per cent of people had no opinion, an astonishingly low figure for any poll question. The welcome implication is that Irish people have followed Brexit closely and have a good understanding of its implications.