From boom to bust: the impact of the economy on migration, and consequently integration, into Ireland
School of Sociology University College Dublin Dublin, Ireland
Since the mid 1990s "Celtic Tiger" Ireland has received a considerable number of migrants, which was remarkable after a history of seeing Irish people leave the country in search of work. Although every study of migration in Ireland is hampered by the lack of trustworthy figures about migration, it is estimated that in 2006 migrants formed about 10% of the Irish population. In that year's census, the Central Statistics Office counted 420,000 non-Irish nationals in the Republic, of which 63,090 were from Poland. However, social researchers, community organisations and journalists refute the figures from the CSO and estimate that there were between 100,000 and 150,000 Poles in Ireland. The governmental figures differ from the commonly accepted figures as well. However, they seem to overestimate the number.
This paper will commence by explaining how the discrepancies in immigration figures could have emerged. Next, it will present a case study of Polish and Indian immigrants and discuss the reasons for migration. The majority of Indians are labour migrants, residing in Ireland on a work visa or work permit. A small percentage is in Ireland on a student visa or a dependent visa. Polish immigrants do not need a visa. As Ireland allowed free migration from the accession states from May 2004, they could travel to and work in Ireland freely since then. In addition, the paper will elaborate on the social and employment situation of these nationalities. Indian immigrants are mainly found in the IT sector and the healthcare sector and have often been recruited by Irish employers, whereas Polish migrants are mainly represented in building, manufacturing and sales and moved to Ireland without a specific job offer. All Indian migrants are proficient in the English language, whereas a considerable percentage of Poles have limited or no knowledge of the English language. Concluding, the paper will turn to the policies that he Irish government has put in place to control migration and facilitate integration. It will take into consideration the suddenly changed economic situation and the changing employment chances in Ireland and the consequences that has had for immigrants.