New research has found that attitudes to immigration in Ireland deteriorated during the recession, and are now worse than the average in western Europe.

The data reveals that support for Muslim and Roma immigration is lower than the norm in ten other countries in the western Europe.

It also shows that frequent contact with other races or ethnic groups is directly associated with more positive attitudes, if the contact is positive. 

The "Attitudes to Diversity in Ireland" study draws on the EU-backed European Social Survey.

In the Republic, a nationally representative sample of approximately 2,300 Irish-born adults was interviewed every two years between 2002 and 2014.

The study finds their attitudes to immigrants and immigration vary significantly over time, depending on the ethnicity of the migrants, the respondents' education, their financial security, and on the level of individual contact people have with people from different ethnic backgrounds.

The ESRI prepared the report for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and found that the positive perception of immigrants' contribution to the economy increased during the boom between 2002 and 2006, then diminished with the onset of the recession in 2008 reaching its lowest point in 2010, but eventually improving as the economic outlook brightened.

58% of respondents supported immigrants of the same ethnicity as the majority here, sliding to 41% support for Muslim migrants and 25% backing for Roma arrivals.

Support for Muslim and Roma immigration is lower in Ireland than the average for ten other countries surveyed stretching from Germany through France, the UK and Spain.

Around one in four respondents had contact with someone from another race or ethnicity every day, with 58% reporting contact at least weekly.