Young people's survey reinforces need to take toxicity out of immigration debate, says Bradshaw

A report which shows a majority of young people agree we have a duty to provide protection to refugees escaping persecution shows the need to take the toxicity out of the immigration issue, Alliance Executive Office spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said.

Paula Bradshaw Immigration

The ‘Young People’s Attitudes to Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Northern Ireland 2023’ report examined attitudes from 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland. Among its results, it found 63 per cent agreed it was our duty to provide protection to refugees who are escaping persecution, while the proportion of respondents who agreed Northern Ireland was welcoming to refugees escaping persecution increased to 41 per cent, from 25 per cent in 2017.

“It is welcome, despite increasing geopolitical challenges, the proportion of respondents agreeing Northern Ireland is a society which welcomes refugees escaping persecution rose significantly over the six-year period to 2023,” said Ms Bradshaw, Chair of the Assembly’s Executive Office Committee.

“This is tribute to a lot of work carried out predominantly in the third sector to provide ways for refugees to access support and integrate into society here.

“Nevertheless, it remained the case one-third of respondents agreed refugees and asylum seekers are not respected here, and that reinforces the need for a Refugee Integration Strategy.

“Nearly two-thirds of young people believe it is our duty to provide protection to refugees fleeing persecution and over three-quarters support allowing people fleeing the war in Ukraine to come here.

“This emphasises how important it is to de-toxify the debate about refugees particularly and around immigration in general, and to focus on ensuring that public services are reformed and enhanced for everyone."