Nearly three in five Irish people believe that terrorists would enter the country under Ireland’s plan to accept 4,000 Syrian and other refugees over the next two years. According to a new opinion poll, 43 percent also believe that the number of refugees is too many, 34 percent believe it is the right amount, and 15 percent feel it is too few.
The nationwide Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll was taken between December 5 and January 7, after the Paris attacks and before full details emerged of the sex attacks in Cologne, Germany, perpetrated by men of African and Middle Easter origin.
The poll found significant levels of concern over the possibility of terrorism arising out of Ireland’s resettlement and relocation programs.
Fifty-nine percent said they had concerns that terrorists could enter the country using the refugee relocation program; 21 percent said no; 15 percent said it depends and 5 percent did not know or had no opinion.
Half of those polled (49 percent) believe that there are already Jihadist terrorists based in Ireland, while 27 percent do not believe there are and 24 percent do not know or have no opinion.
Forty-six percent are worried that Ireland could have a terrorist attack similar to the one that occurred in Paris in November, while 30 percent say they are not worried, 16 percent say it depends, and 8 percent do not know or have no opinion.
A large majority (68 percent) believes that Ireland does not have the capacity to prevent such a terrorist attack, with 11 percent believing the country could stop an attack, and 20 percent saying they do not know or have no opinion.
Read more: Irish Americans must remember their own past in the Syrian refugee crisis
People living in rural areas are more likely than those in urban areas to feel that too many refugees are being allowed in (51 percent vs 37 percent) and that terrorists could enter under the radar as a result (66 percent vs 53 percent).
Rural people were also more likely to feel that Jihadi terrorists are already in the country (58 percent vs 43 percent) and that Ireland is under threat of a Paris-style attack (53 percent vs 41 percent).
Paul Moran, Associate Director of Millward Brown, said: "In some ways, those in urban centers, arguably, should have more cause for concern."
He told the Irish Independent that the poll found people had "little appetite" to join in any military defense of Europe, with 56 percent believing Ireland should remain neutral with 17 percent "more hawkish.”
He added that there was "arguably a certain disconnect between the public's perceived vulnerability" and its willingness to act upon it: only 24 percent would sacrifice personal privacy in the interest of national security.
Before Christmas, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said that Ireland has identified 26 locations to house the thousands of incoming refugees.
She said that while 90 parcels of land were identified as potential sites, only 26 have been deemed suitable by the department. Refugees will be relocated to: Carrickmacross, Carrick-on-Shannon, Roscommon, Sligo, Ballina, Castlebar, Ennis, Limerick, Cork, Tralee, Thurles, Portlaoise, Tullamore, Waterford, Naas, Arklow, Mullingar and Dublin.