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Irish Pick Pubs Over Church

Going to the pub is a more important part of life in Ireland than attending church, the authors of a survey on social attitudes said Tuesday.

Only 22 percent of people in the Irish Republic view regular church-going as important, compared with 35 percent who said going to the pub at least once a week was a priority, said the survey by market research firm Mintel Ireland.

It also indicated that those with the most money to spend were more likely to hand it over for a pint of beer than put it in a church collection plate.

"As you become wealthier, your likelihood of being a regular church-goer decreases," said Mark O'Connell, managing director of Mintel Ireland.

"It seems the higher up the ladder you go, the more difficult it gets to pass through the eye of the needle."

People questioned in British-ruled Northern Ireland were more abstemious, with only 20 percent listing pubs as a priority -- although the number of regular church-goers was not much higher at 23 percent.

The authors of the survey, "Irish Lifestyles: The Rise of the Immoral Majority," said it showed the rapid advance of consumerism in both the Republic -- which witnessed an unprecedented economic boom in the latter half of the 1990s -- and Northern Ireland.

"Owning a flash car and a mobile phone, being a member of a private health club and having a home computer are the new symbols of Irish success on both sides of the border," the report said.

Older people living in rural areas were more likely to attend church than young city dwellers.

"Traditional values of a successful marriage, children, financial security and regular attendance at Sunday worship have all taken a back seat in many households."

The report was based on recent interviews with more than 2,000 people in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.