Integration and the Demise of the Celtic Tiger
The Immigrant Council of Ireland yesterday urged that Ireland should remain committed to the project of migrant integration in spite of the economic downturn. The ICI’s founder, Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, said on Monday that:
“Despite newly released Central Statistics Officer (CSO) figures showing Ireland has, sadly, once again become a country of net emigration, it would be very misguided to think this means we no longer need to care about social inclusion…Our communities have changed forever and we are now a diverse society. That will not change. We must ensure that we continue to remove barriers to social inclusion so that no group or individual must overcome unnecessary hurdles to achieve their potential. That includes language barriers, educational barriers, recognition of qualifications, employment barriers and attitudinal barriers that lead to exclusion and racism.”
On Wednesday, the Irish Times reported that, for the first time since 1995, more people were leaving Ireland than were coming here. However, the Times adds, significant numbers of immigrants continue to arrive: some 57,000 immigrants came to Ireland in the year to April and the outflow of migrants leaving Ireland has not been as large as expected. These facts trouble the assumption that public expenditure in the area of migrant integration (the McCarthy Report recommended reductions in language support teachers and the abolition of the Ministry for Integration) should be cut. The ICI has also criticised the anti-immigration rhetoric which has been a feature of the Lisbon referendum campaign, with its chairman John Cunningham forcefully arguing that ‘this recession must not be used as a ‘wedge’ to divide those who are perceived as ‘us’ and ‘them’.