Poles outnumber British nationals as families re-unite

Polish migrants have overtaken British nationals as the largest non-national group in Ireland, with the number living here rising from 63,276 in 2006 to 122,585 last year — up 93%. There were 112,259 Britons, down 0.3%.

It was thought that many immigrants left Ireland from 2006-2011, but the number of foreign nationals living here has risen by 124,604. The Polish, Indian, Romanian, and Brazilian populations have all doubled since the census in 2006.

The number of Irish residents born outside Ireland stood at 766,770 in 2011, up 25% on 2006 and accounting for 17% of the population overall.

Only 5% of those have Irish citizenship, or have been born abroad to Irish parents and returned.

The CSO also notes that last year there were 55,584 Polish-born women living in Ireland, 32,642 more than 2006. There were 59,609 Polish-born men living here and the figures were in stark contrast to 2006, when there were almost two Polish men for every Polish woman among this group.

According to the CSO, this is a strong indicator of re-uniting families among the Polish community.

This is further emphasised by the number of Polish-born children (aged 0-14) which has more than tripled over the period from 4,485 in 2006 to 14,172 in 2011.

A similar, though not as pronounced, picture can be seen among the Lithuanian and Latvian communities where the increase in the number of women and children outstripped that of men in both groups.

Meanwhile, a question on foreign languages was asked for the first time in Census 2011, and covered both foreign languages spoken at home and how well those who spoke other languages at home could speak English.

The results show that 514,068 Irish residents spoke a foreign language at home and that Polish was by far the most common, followed by French, Lithuanian, and German.

Of those who spoke French at home 73% were Irish nationals, and of the 21,639 persons who spoke Russian at home only 13% were Russians, while 27% were from Latvia, 14% were from Lithuania, and 20% were Irish.

The CSO recorded that more than 4,100 primary school children and 2,756 secondary school children said they could not speak English “well or at all”.

Looking at Irish people returning home, the data shows that 19,593 Irish returned in the year to Apr 2011, of which 7,338 had previously lived in Britain, followed by Australia as the second most important country of origin (3,921) and the US in third place with 1,688.

The remainder of returning Irish came from a wide range of countries with only Canada, Spain, and France showing any significant numbers.

Killian Forde, head of the Integration Centre, said that for policymakers who had backed up inaction with the rhetoric that a majority of immigrants had left Ireland, the figures proved without a shadow of a doubt that this line could no longer be used.

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