Only half of Irish people support more Muslims coming to Ireland

People more likely to be racist when they can conceal their identity
Only half of Irish people support more Muslims coming to Ireland
Salome Mbugua, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission member, said the new report "shines a light into understanding the frequently subtle, covert or coded forms of prejudice and discrimination, which people in Ireland can face."

Only 53% of people support more Muslims coming to Ireland, with people making no effort to conceal their attitude about this, a new study has found.

The same research also revealed people in Ireland are more likely to be racist when they can conceal their identity.

The study also found that the social pressure to exhibit tolerance was much greater when people were asked about Black people, compared to Muslim people.

Some 66% of people surveyed openly supported more Black people coming to Ireland, however, this dropped to 51% when respondents could conceal their attitude. 

These were some of the key findings of a new study, Hidden versus revealed Attitudes: A List Experiment on support for Minorities in Ireland, carried out by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

The study asked 1,600 people their views on Black or Muslim people in Ireland. 

Younger and more educated people are more likely to conceal racist views 

The study found that when people were given the opportunity to remain anonymous, they were more likely to express racist views.

The extent to which people conceal their negative views on immigration depended on the minority group they were asked about, as well as the respondent's gender, age and educational background.

Previous surveys on racism showed that people with a higher level of education are more positive towards minorities. However, this report reveals that this is largely because highly educated people who hold racist attitudes are more likely to conceal them.

Among people with a third-level education, over one quarter (27%) said they do not support more Black people coming to Ireland, but they concealed this view. Some 22% of the same cohort concealed negativity towards Muslim people coming to Ireland.

The concealment of negative views about minorities also varied by age.  People aged 18 to 49 were twice as likely to conceal negative views about Black people immigrating to Ireland, when compared with those aged 50 or over.

Some 19% of the younger group revealed their racist attitude, with only 11% of the older group hiding their true feelings. 

However, overall the younger group were more supportive of Black people immigrating than the older group, even when asked anonymously. Some 59% of those aged 18 to 49 were supportive of this type of immigration, but only 40% of those over 50 agreed they would like to see more Black people coming to Ireland.

Only 53% of each age group supported more Muslims coming to Ireland when asked anonymously.

Concealing negative views about minorities also varied by gender, but it depended on the minority group in question.

Some 21% of men concealed negative opinions towards more Black people coming to Ireland, compared to just 10% of women.

However, women concealed negativity towards Muslims to a much greater extent than men. Some 21% of women showed a lack of support for Muslims but concealed it. 

In contrast, the study found no evidence that men concealed negative attitudes towards Muslims. 

When asked directly if they supported Muslim immigration to Ireland, only 40% of women agreed when they responded anonymously, however, 67% of men supported this type of immigration anonymously.

The survey revealed that statistics on positive attitudes towards minority groups may be heavily influenced by people giving what they think is the 'socially desirable' response.

These covert negative attitudes may affect decisions made 'behind closed doors' or via anonymous acts, such as job recruitment and voting.

Salome Mbugua, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Member
Salome Mbugua, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Member

"The report comes at a moment when the relationship between individual attitudes and systemic racism has been cast into sharp focus," said Salome Mbugua of the IHREC.

"The research shines a light into understanding the frequently subtle, covert or coded forms of prejudice and discrimination, which people in Ireland can face.

"A better understanding of the relationship between people's hidden and revealed attitudes can inform how we as a society identify and face racism and racial discrimination at all levels."

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