Executive Director’s Blog – Irish Support for EU Grows a Month Ahead of UK’s EU Referendum

More than 4 out of 5 Irish people think UK should remain in the EU

With just under 4 weeks to go until the United Kingdom’s referendum on its EU membership on 23 June, a nationwide Red C poll commissioned by European Movement (EM) Ireland, shows increasing support for the EU among Irish people.   The poll also suggests that an increasing number – 81% – of the Irish population believes that Ireland should remain as part of the EU, regardless of the UK’s position. 

For the first time in an opinion poll, Irish people were also asked if they think the UK should remain in the EU, with more than 4 out of 5, or 86%, of those polled saying that the UK should stay.  This was 85% in Munster but rose to 92% among young people all over Ireland.

The detailed findings, which are available here show the results broken down by region, age, gender, class and work-status.

From 9-11 May, 1,015 people from all walks of life were also asked if Ireland should remain part of the EU.  90% agreed and for young people this was even higher at 94%, up from 85% in 2015. Support for EU membership is highest in Connacht Ulster at 96%, and lowest in Munster at 87%.

When asked if, on balance, Ireland has benefited from our EU membership.  87% agreed that we have and this increased again for those aged 25 years and under, to 91%.  These figures are higher than those in a similar polls carried out in 2013, when 83 per cent agreed that Ireland had benefited and in 2015, when 84% agreed.

As noted above, when asked if the UK were to leave, should Ireland leave the EU also, 81% disagreed.  In Munster this was 80%.

This poll, which is the third one EM Ireland has published since 2013, shows an unprecedented level of support for Ireland’s EU membership.  Our take in EM Ireland is that maybe the forthcoming UK referendum on its EU membership has focussed minds here in Ireland?  It is very noteworthy that in the last two years, a growing number of Irish people believe that even if our nearest neighbours leave that Ireland should remain in the EU, notwithstanding that we both joined on the same day in 1973.  The results also indicate that young Irish people in particular overwhelmingly believe that Ireland has benefited from EU membership, with 9 out of 10 agreeing with this statement in the poll.  It is also clear that while everyone here will have to respect the democratic decision which will made by UK voters next month, more than 4 out 5 Irish people think that the UK should remain as a member of the EU.

The final area which Red C asked people about was mobile phone roaming charges.  These are due to be abolished by the EU in June 2017.  Overall 92% of people knew this was going to happen with the lowest levels of awareness among young people, perhaps surprisingly, at 82%, and farmers as a grouping at 79%.  94% of those living in Munster knew about this change, which was the highest level of awareness throughout the country.

The European Commission will be pleased to see that this message has reached consumers all over the country.  Rights like this, which impact on all of us, are one of the most tangible and valuable benefits which membership of the EU can bring.  It remains to be seen whether benefits like the end of roaming charges will impact on the result of the UK’s ‘In Out’ referendum in a few weeks’ time?

This blog post is an edited version of our Executive Director Noelle O Connell’s monthly column in the Cork Evening Echo, which appeared on Saturday, 28 May, 2016. 

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