- Breaking News
- Today's Paper
- Text Only
- Family Notices
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
IRELAND is lucky its rapid absorption of up to half a million migrant workers in 10 years did not spark more "trouble", it was claimed last night.
National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturism director Philip Watt said the republic had managed the social and economic changes of the past decade better than most other European nations.
He said the opinions expressed in the Amárach survey of attitudes to immigration showed how Ireland was evolving.
"Integration in Ireland has been a relatively successful project. Obviously, there is a lot more that could be done.
"But, it is perhaps surprising that there has not been more trouble given the changes that have occurred with Ireland going from having 1% of its population non-Irish, to 10% or 12% in the space of a decade.
"It is surprising we have not had more problems with things like housing," he said.
Mr Watt admitted the situation may now change as Ireland was experiencing a large migrant population against the backdrop of an economic downturn for the first time.
"I think the opinions in the survey reflect that, but Ireland, along with Luxembourg, has shown the most positive attitude to diversity of any European countries.
"I think part of that is because the workers that have come here, have generally been as well educated, and in some cases more so, than Irish people," he added.
The committee’s director added that he believed the looming recession would see numbers of migrants shrinking naturally without any Government intervention.
"Migrants have simply stopped coming. There is no need for ‘restrictions’ on immigration and migrants in vulnerable occupations have also given up and gone again," he said.
Ireland has taken in more migrants workers per head of population than any other EU nation since the union enlarged to absorb central and eastern European nations.
© Irish Examiner Ltd, City Quarter, Lapps Quay, Cork. Registered in Ireland: 523712.