All but 10 per cent of the country’s voters believe Ireland’s rightful place is in the European Union
Almost 90 per cent of people in Ireland think the country should remain part of the European Union, according to a nationwide poll.
The survey, commissioned by the European Movement (EM) Ireland, found that 88 per cent were in favour of staying in the EU, while 82 per cent thought the UK had made a mistake in voting for Brexit.
Similar polls conducted in 2013 showed that three in ten Irish people were keen on leaving the EU, highlighting the shift in attitude.
Noelle O’Connell, Executive Director at EM Ireland, said: “This is a timely ‘Europe Day’ poll on Irish attitudes to EU membership as we approach the UK general election and the anniversary of Brexit.
“Since EM Ireland began its Red C tracking poll in 2013, far fewer people believe that Ireland should follow the UK out of the EU.
“Brexit has created uncertainty, but Irish people are steadfast in supporting continued EU membership.”
The results were released days after former UKIP leader Nigel Farage personally called on Ireland to “break free” from the bloc.
“You cannot be a sovereign, independent, self-governing country while being a member of the European Union,” he wrote in The Irish Times.
“Cut free from the shackles of EU contributions, harmful EU regulations and being caught inside a customs union which prevents Ireland from making free trade deals with the rest of the world, the prize of self-governance awaits.”
Mr Farage cited the strong, historical links between the UK and Ireland as motivation for leaving.
He criticised the EU for trying to interfere with the two countries’ “excellent relationship” and advised the Irish people to distance themselves from Government.
“It is beyond doubt that the relations between Ireland and Great Britain are in the best shape they have been for over a century.
“So it is clearly in the interests of the Irish and British public that this free trade, travel and close relations continue and grow into the future,” he added.
“A time of choosing is quickly approaching when the Irish people, not just its political class, must assess and act to protect their own interests.
“With Brexit, Ireland has an even greater financial imperative to leave the European Union and agree a free trade agreement with Great Britain so that the smooth and full current arrangements continue into the future.”
Last week, the Chief EU Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, attended the Dáil for an exchange of views with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
In a statement, Mr Kenny reiterated the Irish Government’s strong desire to avoid any return to the hard borders of the past.
He expressed his gratitude at the fact that this issue, along with several others relating to the relationship between Ireland and the UK, are to be considered as exit talks progress.
He said: “Thanks to strategic, patient work, and the understanding and support of our European partners, I am pleased that Ireland’s specific concerns are fully acknowledged in the guidelines.
“Supporting and protecting the achievements, benefits and commitments of the Peace Process; avoiding a hard border; and protecting the Common Travel Area will now be addressed as part of the withdrawal negotiations.
“The guidelines provide an excellent basis for the negotiations. It was crucial that we got this right from the start and, again, I would like to thank Mr. Barnier for his role in making that happen.”
However, further results of the poll showed that Ireland was divided on whether they thought the UK’s decision to leave the EU will lead to a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Of those who responded, 49 per cent said they thought it would, while the same number were confident that it would not.