Support for European Union membership remains high in Ireland, a poll marking the 50th anniversary of the country’s vote to join the political and economic union has found.
The 2022 poll from pro-EU organisation European Movement Ireland, carried out by RED C Research, found that support for Ireland remaining a member has increased by four per cent over the last year to 88 per cent.
It also found that 79 per cent of people agreed that EU membership has had a positive impact on their lives.
Just seven per cent of the 1,001 adults polled said they disagreed with EU membership, and five per cent said they did not know if Ireland should remain a member.
Support for Irish involvement in increased EU defence and security co-operation has also risen following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, from 54 per cent in 2021 to a current 59 per cent.
The findings come almost 50 years to the day when 83 per cent of people in Ireland voted in favour of joining the then European Economic Community (EEC) on May 10th, 1972.
Noelle O’Connell, chief executive of European Movement Ireland, said Irish citizens are “consistently among the most positive about EU membership when compared with other member states.”
“It is encouraging that today, on Europe Day and as we mark 50 years of Ireland’s membership of the EU, to see support for membership rise in Ireland to 88 per cent,” she said.
“However, things can change rapidly. As we reflect on 50 years of EU membership, we also must continue to work to maintain this strong level of support in Ireland in the years to come.”
Public opinion on EU defence and security cooperation has meanwhile fluctuated over the years, Ms O'Connell said. “While the war in Ukraine may account for this slight increase in support, the data shows that opinion on this subject remains quite uncertain.”
Support for Ireland’s EU membership peaked at 93 per cent in 2019 before falling to 84 per cent in 2020 and 2021.
At present, support for membership is strongest in Dublin (92 per cent) followed by Munster (89 per cent), the rest of Leinster (88 per cent) and Connacht/Ulster (78 per cent).
The 2022 poll also found that 76 per cent of respondents felt they had a good understanding of how the EU works, in contrast with suggestions of a knowledge gap between citizens and the EU institutions.
The poll was carried out between March 18th and 23rd, with the results of a second due to be released in the autumn.