Belfast welcomes its foreigners more than any other city in UK
(...but there are some disturbing exceptions)
Belfast is one of the most welcoming cities for foreigners in the UK, a survey has found.
Despite a recent spate of racist incidents across the city, around three-quarters of its citizens said the presence of other nationalities was a positive factor.
It puts Belfast above other major UK cities such as London, Glasgow and Manchester in its acceptance of migrants.
The findings are part of a snapshot survey examining social attitudes across the UK.
The survey also found:
- 78% are satisfied with the health services in Belfast, while 85% approve of the city's schools and education facilities.
- 69% are satisfied with how clean the city is.
- 72% are satisfied with Belfast's sports facilities, while 86% approve of its cultural facilities.
The audit of city life interviewed around 41,000 people in cities across Europe. The UK cities were Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, London, Manchester and Newcastle.
The survey showed dramatic differences in the way city dwellers view people from other countries.
In Belfast 75% of people said they thought the presence of foreigners was good for the city – higher than the EU average of 73%. By contrast, only 72% of people in London agreed. For Glasgow the figure was 70%, Cardiff 68%, Manchester 67% and Newcastle 63%.
The survey's findings are a boost for Belfast's imagine following a series of high-profile race attacks in recent months. However, Patrick Yu from the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities said there was no room for complacency.
"Belfast may be tolerant, but if you look at the wider context it is alarming," he said. "Over the last two years the number of attacks across Northern Ireland has increased. There is still much work to be done."
Outside the UK, attitudes to foreigners vary widely. Just 26% of people in the Greek capital of Athens thought foreigners were good for the city, compared to 91% who said the same in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca.
The survey was part of a European Commission-sponsored project to provide comparable information on urban areas.
It interviewed people in 79 cities across Europe, six of them in the UK.
People were asked about their views on issues ranging from their city's environment and cultural facilities to pollution and their views on foreigners.