Recession ‘hitting immigrant community the hardest’

Immigrants have been hit harder by the recession and there are growing levels of concern about their overall integration into various aspects of Irish life.

The Annual Monitoring Report on Integration 2011, published today by the Integration Centre, claims the level of participation within non-Irish communities in sport is approximately half that of the native Irish.

The report uses previously available data, but compares and analyses the figures. The work was carried out on behalf of the Integration Centre by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

Other indicators also show the recession has impacted on integration with immigrants having been hit harder by unemployment. Total employment among Irish nationals fell by 10% between 2008 and 2011, but in the same period total employment among non-Irish nationals fell by 40%.

The consistent poverty rate among non-EU nationals is almost 10%, almost double the rate for Irish nationals.

In education, nine-year-olds from non-English speaking backgrounds perform worse in English reading than their Irish peers.

The Integration Centre has criticised the stalling of many integration initiatives in recent years, although it has acknowledged the improvements in the system allowing for the swifter granting of Irish citizenship to successful candidates.

Comparing the findings of this monitoring report with the findings from the report in 2010, some areas have regressed, including the unemployment rate for non-Irish people and the percentage of non-Irish people aged 25-34 with a third-level education.

On the eve of the European Championships and the week in which the Olympic flame visits Ireland, the lower level of participation in sport is particularly apt, with the report indicating that the gap in participation levels between Irish and non-EU people is particularly wide in social participation in sport, such as volunteering, club membership and attendance at matches.

Large sporting organisations such as the GAA and the FAI have undertaken incentives to increase participation among migrant communities. However, the report states “there is still a lot of work to be done”.

The Integration Centre has also called for more resources to be allocated to the issue of integration as contrary to popular perception, immigration levels actually increased last year compared with 2010.

* www.integrationcentre.ie and www.esri.ie

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