Posts Tagged ‘migration’

Recent Stories in Children’s Rights

February 4, 2010 4 comments

We are still awaiting a draft version of the proposed children’s rights amendment to the Constitution. Aoife blogged about the proposal here. The government serves children very badly, as the Children’s Rights Alliance reminded us last week.  In the fortnight since the announcement was made that the draft constitutional amendment was on the brink of publication  a number of important stories touching on children’s rights in Ireland have broken.

  • Fine Gael provides a very good summary of the outstanding issues in the child protection system here .
  • The Examiner reports on the serious consequences for children with learning difficulties of the budget-driven withdrawal of support teachers here.
  • Last year was the worst year since 2006 for migrant children disappearing from State care. Fine Gael’s response is here and you can read the Irish Times report on the same issue here . The HSE on Monday said that  ‘it has been unsubstantiated that any of the children who go missing from HSE care have been trafficked’. However, the Children’s Rights Alliance provides this statement in which it convincingly argues that  ‘it is a matter of public record that children, who have disappeared from HSE care, have subsequently been ‘found’ in situations where they were being exploited by traffickers. ‘

Conference at UCC: Migration and Networks of Care

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Migration and Networks of Care:

Migrant domestic/care workers in European contexts

14th December 2009, University College Cork

Confirmed speakers:

  • Hilkka Becker, Senior Solicitor, Immigrant Council of Ireland
  • Aoife Smith, Domestic Workers Action Group Coordinator, Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland
  • Fiona Williams, Migration and Networks of Care Project, Professor, Centre for International  Research on Care, Labour and Equalities (CIRCLE), University of Leeds

This panel discussion event will address some of the challenges concerning the employment of migrants in the domestic sphere and related issues pertaining to migration in the Irish and EU contexts. Questions around the legal, welfare, gender and equality issues associated with the phenomenon of (usually female) migrants filling gaps in the relatively unregulated sector of domestic/care work in private households will be addressed in the Irish and comparative European contexts.

Read more…

Migrant Children in Ireland: New Research

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Three researchers based in the Department of Geography at University College Cork have produced Tell Me About Yourself : Children and Young People’s Experiences of Moving To and Living in Ireland. The report, launched at the end of September, documents the experiences of 190 young people, aged 3-18   from African/Irish, central/eastern European, Latin American and returning Irish backgrounds. The report finds that:

  • Having friends and making connections with others is more important to migrant children than emphasising their national or ethnic differences.  Children’s senses of belonging  emphasised their sameness in relation to their peers rather than their difference. According to the research team, in this context, integration policies which focus on migrant children’s perceived differences from their ‘Irish’ peers can be imbalanced.
  • Despite the emphasis in current debates on migrant children’s national identities and the use of labels such as ‘non-national’ to describe them, the children often made their strongest connections at the local and global scales rather than the national. Many were part of strong transnational family networks, some could travel back and forth to their home countries regularly, and many kept in touch with friends and family in other countries through their use of internet-based technologies.
  • While migrant children did not always feel connected to Ireland per se, they often described attachments to local places, for example, places where they hung out with friends, their housing estates and sometimes their schools.
  • Migrant children  and youth could be marginalised and made to feel different in school. The report agues that  this is unsurprising in some ways, given that Irish society tends to define migrant children by their perceived cultural difference to ‘Irish’ children.
  • The lack of play facilities and opportunities for interaction with local children was particularly problematic for children living in direct provision accommodation centres.
  • While current policies tend to focus on English language tuition or on meeting migrant children’s basic needs, the researchers emphasise the need to mainstream migrant children’s rights in key policy areas and to acknowledge their rights both as migrants and as children.
  • According to the research team, there is an urgent need for migration and integration policies to recognize children’s perspectives, given that almost 20% of all migrants in Ireland are aged 19 and under, and that they and their peers will play a major role in intercultural relations in Ireland into the 21st century.

Adapted from this press release.

Belfast Roma Attacks: The Assembly’s Response

October 8, 2009 2 comments

Fallout from the racist intimidation of Roma families living in Belgravia Avenue and Wellesley Avenue in South Belfast this June continued this week as the Northern Ireland Assembly debated a motion moved by MLA Anna Lo (South Belfast, Alliance Party) recognising the contribution of migrant workers to society in Northern Ireland and requesting that the Executive urgently review the support provided to migrant workers.

Whilst most of the families immediately affecteRoma Attacksd by June’s violence returned to the Bihor region of Romania in the immediate aftermath of the attacks (pictured left), over 30,000 migrant workers from ten newest member states of the European Union remain in Northern Ireland, predominantly living in Belfast and in the large towns of Dungannon and Craigavon (although immigration is decreasing during the recession).

Having highlighted the perilous position under UK law of migrant workers from Bulgaria and Romania in particular, Ms Lo argued that migrants did not receive adequate attention from the work of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and called for the re-establishment of the now moribund Racial Equality Forum.

One protectionist voice, Thomas Buchanan (DUP, West Tyrone), resisted these calls with assertions that, ‘[a] practical and sensitive approach must be taken to calls for jobs to be retained for our own local workers. Although we are aware of the immense contribution that migrant workers make, nevertheless, in the middle of a recession and in the face of increased unemployment, we must get our priorities right in securing employment for our local people.’

In relation to immigration (which under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 remains a reserved issue administered from Westminster), the tone of the debate was at times ominously studded with references to “the troubles”, with Tom Elliot (Fermanagh & South Tyrone, UUP), in particular claiming that, ‘if we are not careful, we will have constant conflict, which could become the new sectarianism of Northern Ireland, in which the traditions of locals and migrants will be pitched against each other instead of the old Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions.’

In his response to the motion, the Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey (East Belfast, UUP), reiterated the Executive’s commitment in their Programme for Government to deliver, ‘a peaceful, fair and prosperous society … with respect for the rule of law’. Nonetheless, he had to acknowledge that the work of the Racial Equality Forum had underpinned the Executive’s policy regarding migrant workers.

Whilst the Equality Commission is in the midst of a major report on migrant workers (due to be delivered in early 2010), it operates at arm’s length from the Executive, maintaining an oversight function. By contrast, the Racial Equality Forum, which brought together senior representatives of government departments, statutory agencies and voluntary organisations helped to direct the Northern Ireland Executive’s focus to the aims set out in A Racial Equality Strategy for Northern Ireland.

The importance of Anna Lo’s motion lies in the fact that such consistent inculcation of human rights and the principle of equality within the executive branch remains a central plank of efforts to uphold these values.

Migration and the Death of the Celtic Tiger

September 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Our colleague Jaya Ramji-Nogales (left) RamjiNogales_WebPhotohas posted on IntLawGrrls on the recently released report by Martin Ruhs and Emma Quinn for the Migration Information Source on contemporary challenges to Ireland’s immigration policies.

The report’s conclusions are unlikely to come as much of a surprise to most people in Ireland:

The number of unemployed continues to grow, representing an increasing burden on the state. Even given the habitual residency condition on social welfare, the number of non-Irish unemployed workers entitled to support is substantial.

According to CSO, which tracks claims for unemployment and other employment-related government assistance, non-Irish nationals made up 18.5 percent of all persons (80,786 of 435,735) on the Live Register in July 2009. Of those non-Irish nationals, over half were from EU-12 countries.

The difficult economic conditions could result in migrants returning to their countries of origin in large numbers, as EU-10 nationals have the ability to legally return and take up work once conditions improve. Sufficient data to test this hypothesis are not yet available.

If international economic conditions improve, large-scale Irish emigration could resume. There are some indications this may happen: emigration rates overall rose 25 percent between 2006 and 2008. However, net migration remains strongly positive.

In Jaya’s overview of the report, I found her comments about Ireland’s “safe country of origin” principle to be of particular interest:

[Ireland] instituted a “safe country of origin” element into the asylum determination process. Though entirely without basis in international law or in the realities of persecution, such policies create a presumption that asylum seekers from “safe countries of origin” do not need protection. Combined with legislation making carriers liable for transporting unauthorized migrants, this program led to a decline in asylum applications in Ireland after 2002 (a drop that coincided with declines in asylum applications throughout the developing world, likely linked to stricter border control policies in the wake of September 11).