Growing number of migrants becoming Irish citizens, but integration "challenges" remain

A growing number of migrants are seeking and securing Irish citizenship, according to a new report published yesterday.

The annual Integration Monitoring Report by the ESRI and Integration Ireland showed that between 2005 and the end of 2012, almost one-third of European Economic Association (EEA) citizens who moved here secured citizenship.

That represents almost 54,700 people, and in 2012 alone some 20,200 non-EEA adults acquired Irish citizenship.

The study also shows that income poverty rates were similar for both Irish and non-Irish nationals last year, although basic deprivation rates was higher among migrants, in particular among those from Africa.

In the latest Monitoring report, the fourth conducted by Integration Ireland in conjunction with the ESRI, researchers focused on migrant children at the age of three and how they fare compared with Irish three-year-olds. It showed:

nImmigrant mothers of three-year-olds are, on average, less likely to be employed than Irish mothers, despite generally having a higher level of education.

Immigrant children are less likely to be in non-parental childcare for eight hours or more a week, apart from those with mothers from Western Europe.

Where immigrant children are in non-parental childcare, they are much more likely to be in crèche-based care than in the care of a relative, linked to the lack of an extended family living in Ireland.

Financial strain, particularly linked to the recession, tends to be higher among immigrant families, particularly of African origin.

One of the authors of the report, Dr Frances McGinnity, said Ireland still faced challenges in integrating its large numbers of new immigrants, despite the surge in numbers acquiring Irish citizenship.

Killian Forde, CEO of The Integration Centre, said this monitoring report would be the last due to funding cutbacks.

“We can only hope that the State will prove its commitment to promoting a socially cohesive society via providing funding in this area in the future,” he said. “We need to see how migrant children perform in school exams and what resources are allocated for assisting with language learning. In the same vein, we need to monitor whether labour market activation programmes address the need of migrant groups suffering from high unemployment rates.”

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