April 27, 2008

Ireland's immigration party needs to draw up a guest list

Posted in Ireland · 46 comments ·

The news this week that the Polish government has launched an international campaign to bring its talented people home should come as no surprise.

Those familiar with the IDA’s successful effort to bring Intel here will know that one of the swing factors was our ability to bring home skilled graduates who had left in the 1980s recession.

While the reason for the recruitment drive in Poland might be similar to the Irish call to the exiles in the late 1980s, the main reason Polish immigrants will leave Ireland over the coming months and years will be fewer job opportunities.

Anecdotal evidence, particularly from the rental market, suggests that many immigrants are leaving. In addition, and more worryingly, data from the jobs market indicates that many thousands have gone on the dole.

Before we get high and mighty about the dole, let us remind ourselves that some of the finest dole scammers in London in the mid-1980s were Irish ‘workers’. That said, the point is valid, because the public’s stance on immigration will be negatively related to the number of immigrants on the dole.

The major question is what will happen when thousands of immigrants leave. One reason to assume that many will leave rather than go on the dole is that, for the most part, they came to pursue the Irish Dream. They are here to improve their lot. For central European immigrants, it is hard to imagine that Ireland is their final destination. It makes more sense to see Ireland as a transit point on their journey.

When things are good here, it makes sense to stay. If things turn down, it makes sense to leave.

The major flaw in this argument is that no other economy in Europe is creating jobs in decent volumes at the moment, so they have nowhere else to go. Faced with a similar dilemma in the 1970s,thousands of Irish immigrants went on the dole in Britain when things turned down.

Bearing this in mind, let us examine What might happen if (a) they stay and if (b) they go. Then let’s see whether the current immigration policy is likely to survive a slowdown in the economy or whether changed circumstances demand changed priorities.

If the immigrants go, the brunt of their absence will be felt in the housing market. This is because immigrants, by expanding the labour force, drive the price of houses or rents higher than they would be had the immigrants not arrived. They also drive workers’ wages lower than they would have been had the immigrants not been competing in the jobs market.

Therefore, immigration is bad for workers and good for landlords and employers. So if the immigrants go, the supply of labour will contract, pushing up wages. However, at the same time the demand for houses will fall, pushing down rents and house prices.

There was always something pretty idiotic about the idea – which gained currency last year – that the demand for immigrants in construction would keep the price of houses up on its own. This was particularly silly, as it was the Polish workers themselves who were expected to live in the very houses they were building.

So a fall in immigration might actually be positive for workers’ wages and the proportion of those wages they have to give over in rent. If, on the other hand, the immigrants decide that they know Ireland, they have networks here and they have a better chance of fighting over a diminished pie in Ireland than starting afresh in Germany, another dynamic takes over.

In this case, the immigrants will do jobs for considerably less than their Irish counterparts. This implies that wages will fall.

The reason for this is that, as it was for Irish workers in New York in the 1980s, the reference point for whether you are doing well or not is the difference between what you were earning at home and what you could earn abroad. As Irish wages are still six times higher than Polish wages, our wages would have to fall a lot for it to be worthwhile for the average Pole to go home.

Sometimes, we don’t realise that the immigrants live in a parallel world to us where prices, values, experiences and aspirations are benchmarked against conditions in the home country, as well as conditions here in Ireland. If they stay, therefore, we are likely to experience a battle between Irish workers and the immigrants over available jobs and available wages.

Time will tell which one of these scenarios plays out. Irrespective of what happens, one thing is clear: the era of opening the door to everyone who would like to come is over.

At the moment, our immigration policy basically opens the door and sees who comes in from central Europe. This is obviously fraught with danger. It is like having a party without a guest list.

Why not, in the future, use our immigration policy as a national recruitment policy? Let’s recruit the best for Ireland. Because there will be far fewer construction jobs, the pull of Ireland to construction workers from the east will be significantly impaired. This change in conditions allows us to be selective. We might consider framing the policy with this key question: what type of immigrant do we want?

Think of the world as a talent pool where the country has much more value than simply its sovereign or political form. In the new economy, where millions of people are trying to find a place to live where they can better themselves and further their talent, a country which can offer such opportunities is very special.

A country is like the host of a party, and the country that hosts the best party is the one where most guests want to go. It is up to us now to write the guest list.

Ireland could easily emulate the likes of Australia and Canada and issue invitations based on talents that we think we need. In this way, we could ensure that every immigrant contributes to a pool of human capital, rather than having an open-door policy which is, by definition, hit and miss.

This might put us on a collision course with Brussels, but isn’t this what sovereignty is all about – the ability to make decisions for ourselves and live by them?

  1. Jerry

    Another interesting article there David, but I don’t see exactly what you are proposing. Exactly how can we start placing restrictions on which EU citizens we allow to work here now? We’re paying for the mistakes past governments have made now by allowing this situation to happen in the first place.

    As a by-the-by, it would be great if you could write some cold truths about the Lisbon Treaty. The papers today tell us that approx one third are for, one third are against, and the other third are undecided. There’s a very unsettling drought of information.

  2. VincentH

    In the past, any time the Irish came together with the Poles was not pretty. All went well for a while, but with a downturn, coliforms hit the propeller. The very things that brings the two together, fractures them spectacularly. Chicago, might be a study for someone.

  3. MK

    Hi David,

    Yes, immigration is an important factor affecting our economy – but we dont have any option in terms of limiting EU citizens that come here to work. We have already signed that away and have (over the decades) already accrued benefits from it (by Irish citizens going abroad intra-EU, etc). We cant decide to leave the EU as an economic tactic now in terms of immigrants without seeing the whole picture. Its a non-runner. We can limit non-EU immigrants though, but they are a minority I understand. I still cant figure out why Gort has so many Brazillians, even if it may improve our chances in the 2018 world cup?

    > As Irish wages are still six times higher than Polish wages, our wages would have to fall a lot for it to be worthwhile for the average Pole to go home.

    I thought average Irish wages were about 40k and Polish ones are 10k (and increasing), so four times. We also need to factor in the costs people must spend in each country. Its only the savings people make in country A versus country B, and the availability of work (sometimes easy work) which drives comparability and their decisions. Costs in Ireland are high and eat into minimum wage salaries. As you wrote in another article I think, people are willing to put-up with a lesser quality of life in some aspects, such as in accomodation. Some of us know os situations where there are 8 people living in a 2-bedroomed apt, etc.

    Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, etc will go back home, especially those that want to start a family perhaps, new ones will arrive, its a cycle.

    But in terms of economics, these people movements will ebb and flow based on supply and demand and opportunities, across the EU. There are many businesses from outside Poland (for example) that have setup there. Indeed, the Polish economy is doing very well. As material wealth improves in Poland, as it will do, (just like Spain did for example), the Polish people will have more opportunities in their own country or in countries nearer to them, which competes with the opportunity in Ireland. Ireland could very well find itself off the menu as a target destination in due course ….. or at least not as palatable as it once was/seemed ….. time will tell.


  4. David
    I think you’re absolutely right Ireland needs to organise a guest list and the UK needs to do the same.
    To those people who don’t think it’s possible I urge you to think again… We’ve been very fortunate that the Polish are on the whole exemplary immigrants; I’m not sure we’ll be able to say the same of some of the other countries that are going to be eligible for EEC equality in the next few years.

  5. Garry

    Not at all sure what you are trying to achieve here Daithi?

    We were genuinely world class when it came to dole scamming, I even heard stories of a few enterprising people in Rosslare managing the feat of being able to claim dole in Ireland and London at the time. Maybe Fas do a few courses to revive this ancient Irish craft. So some Poles will stay here and draw the dole, is it that big a deal, we took their taxes?

    We should think about EU citizens here drawing benefits in the sense that this provides an inventive for richer countries to improve the lot of poorer countries in the EU. And by doing “the right thing” it benefits everybody. After all, it worked for us, you couldn’t pass a pothole here without a “Being filled in by EU money” sign a few years ago…

    Eaten bread is soon forgotten and there is a growing anti EU feeling here. But compare our history to many other parts of the world where the lives of ordinary people have got worse over the last 50 years. The EU record whether applied to Ireland, Spain, Portugal or more recent entrants like Poland, Latvia etc is very impressive… perhaps only equaled by the US’s Marshall Plan after WW2.

    Agree with you on immigration guest list but of course this can only be applied to non EU citizens. And should be rigorously applied across the EU even if means being labeled Fortress Europe. The EU’s history is one of peaceful expansion and rising living standards for member states; I suspect one reason for its success is the very slow pace of expansion, which should slow again till our new member states have had the same time we got to develop their economies.

  6. SpinstaSista

    …horse…bolted…stable door…shut…

  7. John Q. Public

    I saw a headline over the weekend that says the dole ques could top 200,000 in the near future. David, you say ‘They are here to improve their lot’, well the dole would probably make more sense here than to go back to Eastern Europe or Poland. Not to mention all the other benefits one could get here. One could argue from this article that they should be encouraged to leave as this would be better for the native Irish with lower rents and less people to compete against for jobs. If we ever do need more workers in the future we could appeal to our beloved diaspora to help us out.

  8. Brian

    A person on the dole gets €180 per week or €9360 annually from the state. An annual dole draw in Ireland therefore matches an average Eastern European wage of around 10K. A cash in hand job on top of that will give a nice income to supplement the lack of ‘honest’ work hours available.

    I am fully aware of the enormous contribution of immigrants to our revenue and economy, but if some work in a ‘cash’ job why would they want to leave, particularly if there is a general slowdown in the world economy? I am not in any way saying ALL immigrants will do this but if some Irish did/are doing it in other countries ………………………………….! Its the regretable side to human nature (‘If they do it I ll do it’)

    And who pay the cash in hand jobs to immigrants (and to Irish of course)….Irish bosses. Much hypocrisy in this country.

  9. Kevin

    If an Eastern European has been working in Ireland for 2 years, they can get the dole in Ireland and then transfer it to their home country (or any other EU country for that matter) after a month. They will then have the dole for a further 3 months while abroad and it will be fully paid for by the Irish state. Hard to see why many Eastern Europeans would bother hanging around our basket case economy when they could be on the scratcher (and paid Irish rates) surrounded by their loved ones while looking for work there or in nearby Germany. I suspect the next couple of years will see a huge rise in emigration in Ireland.

  10. Paul

    We invented dole scamming, and now we are complaining about scammers ….. hahahaa that gave
    me a good chuckle on a rainy Monday afternoon. My friend had 11 claims going at one stage, back in
    1994 down the Holloway Road in London. People would pat him on the back and say “fare play to you”.
    It seems that when Johnny Foreigner tries the same thing, we are not so happy about it. We only like
    the Irish “cute hoores”.

  11. Philip

    The big worry is that the clever immigrants leave along with clever irish.

    We need to seen as a tolerant and liberal society with a good and fair legal system (David, pink makes the economy go wink – was your catch phrase in a previous article of yours) and that in turn will help make the brains stay here. The rest will follow. Frankly, I think we are no where near achieving this. Our global brand as a country to live in is marred by increasing levels of dishonesty (we have fallen in the last few years in terms of business ethics) and a lowering of standards in government. We are increasingly out of control and the global shock seems to be affecting us more than other locations – property being worst performer in Europe.

    That said, I think there is a huge amount we can do and it will be down to power of one concepts. Look at how recycling has caught on faster than was expected. The Plastic bags initiative etc. They are small, but significant. I’d like to see the rise of the discerning complainers – the people who insist on quality and nothing second best, half done, t’will do nonsense. Effective complaints with increased accountability and the brand will start to rev up.

    The last thing we want is where the average intelligence drops as the immigration adjustment takes place.

  12. Observer

    Well Philip,

    we need to act now to ensure that we keep our Clever Irish here so when the mud really hit the fan we can at least function.

    It would be good for the Clever Immigrants to leave because it will enable their own homeland and people to build themselves a future…… The Latvians in High School have to deal with their Cousins, Parents, Friends and relatives leave them to fill the ever growing vaccuum of skill in their country.

    This is a huge burden to place on them and they are not yet ready to fill or handle the pressure.

    All our Doctors, Scientists, Teachers left for America and elsewhere for decades….. and as a country we lived on hand outs from them sending money back.

    A country cannot function this way….. We need to ride the waves and face the storm… that’s how powerful states are made….. they rely on themselves and callback their children to build the foundations on which it stands.

    “A divided house cannot Stand”

  13. John Q. Public

    Interesting. No left-wing liberal looneys arguing that immigrants should be allowed to stay here and get the dole. Let’s face facts: with decreasing tax revenues, it would cost a fortune to keep a few hundred thousand people on the dole here for years on end. We would gladly see them go home wouldn’t we? Yes we would.
    In light of this we should track down the African scammers while we are at it and send them home. The party is winding down in this nightclub so let’s employ more and tougher bouncers to guard the doors and throw out the dossers.

  14. Rob

    The difficulty is that the best and brightest leave when a downturn happens, the young and mobile that is. They may have prematurely closed down the Galtymore in london after all! The immigrants will probably go to Germany as there is a lot of opportunities and is closer to home for many eastern europeans. That said many immigrants here, have good jobs, work hard and contribute to the economy and despite the rain actually like it here. These might probably stay indefinitely.

  15. Wessel

    Sad to hear the same old fear mongering about immigrants. Any references to how many Poles are on the dole? Didn’t think so. With a proportion of the population less than 2%, how many of these hundred thousands on the dole will be Poles?

    Comments like “African scammers” however shows the real issue of not too subtle racism. Why African John?

    Economists who study the dynamics of a knowledge economy point out that if you do not have a tolerant society, forget about attracting talent. Looks like we are shooting ourselves in the foot again.

  16. Jon

    Just to let you know how I will do.
    If I loose my job, I will go back to my country. I don’t care staying here, far from my familly, far from my friends, just to get my unemployment benefit and spend the whole day home watching TV.
    On the other hand, just to let you know that right know I am paying a lot of taxes. And it’s not fair from you blaming me if I get back what I paid. Isn’t it part of the game, paying when you can, and getting back if you are in trouble ?

  17. John Q. Public

    Wessel, wake up and read a newspaper some time and don’t bother pointing the racism finger at me if you don’t mind. The problem is we are too tolerant, just look at the state of Britain.

  18. Malcolm McClure

    Go East, young man.
    “Moscow was rated first or second in terms of “buy” recommendations for all property types, with office and retail particularly strong. “This market has huge depth and breadth, nobody has begun to scratch the surface,” an Emerging Trends report says. Moscow’s wealth is based on resource richness and is relatively immune from the western recession.
    “Istanbul scored equally high as a strong “buy” market. Turkey is the India of Europe.” continues Emerging Trends.
    Istanbul has a cost of living index only 75% of Dublin, so well-qualified people should be able to save plenty if they receive a western-based salary. But watch out for the Real earthquake. (As opposed to the financial one.)

  19. SpinstaSista

    It could be argued that Ireland was dumbed down in the past because our brightest and best emigrated. In the recent past the brightest and best from other countries came to Ireland and we have squandered the opportunity to hold on to them. They have already started leaving along with our own brightest and best. We will be left with disillusioned older workers like myself who grew up in the 1980s, didn’t benefit from our own honest work, saw others benefit from nepotism or inheritance and witnessed a boom being squandered. If we don’t get our act together we will also be left with a hotch-potch of NEETs, scam artists and racketeers from Ireland and abroad who will drag our country and its population into a dystopian, dysgenic mire. It’s happening already in some suburbs of the city.

  20. MK

    > And who pay the cash in hand jobs to immigrants (and to Irish of course)….Irish bosses. Much hypocrisy in this country.

    Well, all bosses in all countries will pay cash in hand if there is an incentive to do so. We have several problems in Ireland which encourages this illegal practice:

    1 – No Inspectors – when was the last time you were apprehended by an inspector at your work and asked what is your PPS number? It effectively never happens. They have very very few inspectors. Last I heard it was about 13 or so for the country. So, we need to establish more, 100′s. If there are no ‘employment police’, the rules will be broken and are – a 4 yr old child knows that.

    2 – PRSI structure – PRSI tax (yes, it is a tax, dont let the word insurance fool you!) is paid mainly by the employer as Employer PRSI for low paid workers, about 10.5%-12.5%, whereas Employee PRSI is very low to zero. This encourages cash-in-hand payments as it costs that much less for an employer to do so (they avoid Employer PRSI) – which is a significant wad.

    3 – Did I mention Inspectors? – Many of those receiving social welfare, council houses, medical cards, etc are working cash-in-hand to avoid detection. Too few work inspectors means thousands going undetected and no deterrent!

    4 – Penalties – what is the punishment if a Boss is caught for paying cash-in-hand? Is it a fine of 5k or something? Has anyone ever gone to prison? I doubt it.

    Irish bosses are cashing in, but if there is no detterent, it is the system. Again, look at our politicians and civil servants.

    There is also an argument that if the labour market was more regulated, that it would only re-balance monies from business owners to workers. Business owners may invest less and hence hold back economic development. However, most of these are in service industies, what could be termed downsteam services, which will happen one way of the other (ie: there is no intellectual capital). Wealthy business owners are more likely to spend monies abroad than if the monies were spread out more equally among lower paid workers who are more likely to spend it in Ireland, although I havent read any definitive studies on that to back that thesis up.


  21. Piotr

    Hi David,
    Being a Pole living in Dublin and reading your posts now and again, I could add some immigrant’s perspective to the discussion. From my knowledge of the sentiments within our community about 9 of 10 will leave. Still, given the numbers, quite a few will stay, but not enough to save the rental market (God bless all the small time ‘investors’). No hard feeling though – it was great craic, we earned some money, time to move back or move on.
    BTW – back in the eighties no one expected Germans to be looking for a job in Ireland, and now they’re not uncommon. So we may meet back in Krakow. I don’t believe Poland will be considering restricting movement within EU – so all are welcome.

  22. mick cummins

    Look at the shocking rise in unemployment in the past 6 months.Every internet cafe is full of foreigners applying for every position going.Ireland has a greater % of its workforce born abroad than the Uk or Australia.People in nice cushy govt jobs arent affected.Lucky them.

  23. Jonathan

    I think it is dangerous to point a lot of fingers at immigrants and hysterically scream about “taking our jobs”. Unfortunately, if you are an Irish worker in a low paid job you are likely to find that your conditions worsen considerably due to increased competition so this was bound to happen at some stage. So Jon, negative reactions are to be expected, especially in a downturn. John Q. has a point though concerning “African scammers” as he bluntly puts it. I have heard a vast amount of anecdotal evidence of many scams, hoaxes, etc. perpetrated by members of the African community. I have also heard many bad things concerning the Roma community here. I’m all for tolerance but these issues need to be dealt with urgently because law abiding, hard working immigrants will also feel the brunt of public sentiment turn against them. This not what we want. Before anybody has a pop at me for being racist, I’m far from it. There is a difference between a society tolerant of other peoples and cultures and one that is tolerant of crime and fraud.

    From a rational point of view the current open door, come and go, policy does not make much sense. Successful immigration policies tend to control the amount of immigrants over time and assimilate them over a period of decades. I’m all for the free movement of workers in principal but there are consequences to the current implementation. First off provisioning of services and housing is problematic since these can’t be altered as swiftly as the flow of immigrants arrive or leave. For example, many schools now have a significant percentage of pupils who are either non-nationals or are born of immigrant parents. This puts pressure on classroom sizes and also creates a demand for integration services. Given that there were already significant problems in the schools system before hand, large scale immigration was not going to help matters. Interstate policing is a problem since criminal records and data do not seem to follow any immigrants who may be criminals effectively giving them a clean slate whenever they move. Translation services in the courts also lag behind.

    Sure, landlords and employers are happy since costs are driven down and rents up but surely there is a balance to be struck. The way I see it there are two models of immigration. One where people come and go as they chase the work and one where we expand the population over time.

    If we are adopting the former model then, just as there is an incentive to come here when things are good there should be an incentive to leave when things turn bad. Minimum services are offered from the government so the state does not have to expand or contract it services much. Minimal dole, no right to schooling, etc. Second class citizens to put it crudely.

    If we are adopting the second more long term model we need to attract the right people and have enough time to assimilate them and provide the services and housing required. This obviously means ditching the open door policy to the chagrin of the EU.

  24. eugene

    Piotr, and Jon. Nobody has a problem with Polish immigrants. Any problem is with immigration, or rather the level of it. Only Ireland, Britain, and Sweden opened up their borders to the new European States in 2004 – the “pro-Europeans” on the Continent, closer though they are, did not. This means that Ireland, for instance, faced immigration from the entire Eastern Block – 100M people – 25 times our population, with salaries at Mexican levels. Clearly this has had an effect on wages ( down relative to where they would be), and rents ( up from where they would be). In fact most unbiased economic analysis of mass immigration points out that at the end of any year mass immigration is not in the interests of all workers in a country working in the tradable sector ( including previous immigrants, even within that year) .

    More Eastern workers makes you poorer too, so you should have been glad when we restricted Romania/ Bulgaria etc. The people who support the level of immigration we have seen are the beneficiaries of it and are largely hegemonic in the Irish media. Many of these people, most from the millionaire suburbs, are in protected jobs, and inheritors of wealth and position – although they claim “anti-capitalism” occasionally – mainly because if you inherit wealth you just dont have to trade, like the little people.

    What you also should know about your “defenders” in the Irish media is simply this: when you still in the Soviet empire they were on the side of your Soviet overlords, they were then also anti-EU ( described as a capitalist plot then) , and to NATO, and opposed to any uprisings, nationalist, religious, or other, in the Warsaw Pact. Particularly Poland, where the Catholic nature of the resistance appalled them.

    Immigration is like inflation. Inflation is better than deflation. Deflation is symptomatic of an economy in decline. Net outward migration is similarly bad for the economy, but like inflation – which at controlled low levels is good – immigration is good when controlled.

    The lack of debate here about the issue; the whine about racism, or fascism when someone like myself, in favour of limited immigration, but dubious on the numbers should remind you exactly of what was going on in Poland in the 1980′s – when Polish nationalists and dissenters were described as Fascists by the communists. Same trick here. Same type of people.

  25. Piotr

    My point is, that since clearly the tide is turning, soon enough most of us will be gone, and along with us the concern our sheer numbers are causing today. After all are there so many Portugese left in France or, indeed Irish in Germany?
    And anyway, after the access transition period for new member states, short of stepping out of the EU, how can a state control movement of people in a union that’s founding principle is indeed the free movement of people?

  26. emma

    Every non-Irish, non-Chinese person whose medical care I dealt with from a variety of locations in the Mid-West over the past 6 months has had a medical card. Either they are on the dole or are getting paid in cash. Either way it costs a huge amount of money. Who is to blame? Is this going to be investigated? Why is the Mid Western Health Board allowing this?

  27. Brian

    MK. I am well aware that some bosses in most countries will pay cash in hand if there are little regulations as you rightly pointed out (in the case of Ireland – ‘If everybody else does it I will’ attitude).

    I was more trying to highlight the hypocrisy of some Irish people when it comes to immigration, as many Irish bosses pay cash in hand for the benefit of their own business. In such cash businesses, both the worker and employer benefit. The state’s interest is pushed to the side by such operations.

    Totally agree though on your points. Why are n’t these cash business targeted more? Its good to hear the revenue are starting to target such operations more but will or can they succeed? These, mostly Irish run cash operations, have been a part (to what extent we will never fully know) of the immigration mechanism, and in here lies part of the hypocrisy of some Irish, with the ‘us v them’ attitude in reference to immigrants.

    Freedom of movement is part of being in the EU as Piotr pointed out, and my goodness did the cash Irish run businesses exploit it during the ‘good’ times.

  28. The-Original-Ed

    Would it not be better to use our imagination and energy to add a few percentage points to our growth, instead of harping on about immigrants, who have made a huge contribution to this economy over the last number of years. Government waste through inefficiency and incompetence is far, far, greater than the cost to the state of a few unemployed immigrants. It’s pathetic to see how inward looking and short sighted most of the posters are – it’s no wonder that the only value in this country is housing. – it’s simple and primitive. Where has that “gung ho” Irish mentality gone to – have all the talented ones emigrated?

  29. John Q. Public

    I agree with you on the incompetence issue The-Original-Ed but not on ‘inward looking and short sighted’. We face a rising population with an increasing over 65 age group and so dole ques and state pensions will be an issue. We should be able to talk about all these issues without being labelled racist or xenophobic.

  30. GOM

    The incompetence issue is very easily solved. If people in the private sector are not guaranteed their jobs then why should they be in the public service. First action item-only ever give a maximum five year contract to public service workers with performance assessments on a yearly basis to then trigger a further five years if performance is satisfactory. NOBODY should have a job for life – the myth that MNCs provide security has fooled many people and with tens of thousands of jobs being lost in manufacturing at the moment I guess we are learning that lesson the hard way.

    A significant reason the US is not as imminently in danger of exposure to an ageing population is because of the large amount of immigration there. This may be changing as their rules are becoming ever stricter but the point is, immigrants do make up an important element of productivity and if skewing the incentives towards more highly qualified people and perhaps non-EU immigrants…why not. Canada and Australia have quite sophisiticated points systems and Canada is held up as one of the most tolerant societies….lessons for us?

    We are part of the EU so cannot disallow less qualified workers but as has been pointed out, this cross-section of the migrant EU population is most fickle in terms of sensitivity to the economic status/outlook of the country whereas more highly qualified people are more insulated from downturns.

  31. Observer

    “A significant reason the US is not as imminently in danger of exposure to an ageing population is because of the large amount of immigration there. This may be changing as their rules are becoming ever stricter but the point is, immigrants do make up an important element of productivity and if skewing the incentives towards more highly qualified people and perhaps non-EU immigrants…why not. Canada and Australia have quite sophisiticated points systems and Canada is held up as one of the most tolerant societies….lessons for us?”

    I wouldn’t say Canada is a role model to Follow GOM, The Native Americans are still treated as badly if not worse as they are in the US and also the Canadians Pride themselves as being: White and Anglo-Saxon….. They are growing ever more suspicious of Non-British Immigrants. The Largest groups now entering are Italians, Portuguese and Indians.

    I wouldn’t call that “Country” Tolerant………Some Canadians even are calling for their “Nation” to be populated entirely by Whites due to the rise in Islamic Terror Plots there… not to mention Past Acts of Terrorism on their soil in the 80′s from Sikh Separatists who happen to hold Canadian Citizenship.

    America at least earns its Reputation as “The Nation of Nations” because they’ve so much experience over 150 years plus with allowing every person of colour/creed, it could only last for so long though but we cannot replicate their success…… probably because the USA was founded by Immigrants who helped directly or indirectly the decline in the native population who had/still have little or no say. From what clearly history tells us from these two groups, their relationship soured very quickly and we all know what happened afterwards.

  32. GOM

    Observer: I can understand the arguments re the treatments of the native populations in the USA, Canada and Australia. My point relates more to the systems in place to enable a filtration of immigrants of the profile the country needs to retain or maintain its success. So, gladly, our treatment of native populations is so far in our past and is now the heritage we must protect that we do not have similar problems to deal with, i.e., reparations for wrongdoing in the past (with the exception – and I don’t want to go there simply because this thread is not themed on this – of our treatment of the travelling community).

    The lessons we can learn are more systematic and tactical than learning how to ostracise elements of your community. I must say though, I have significant experience of Canada and the US and would be much more comfortable (in terms of personal safety) in the ethnic centres of Toronto or Montreal than Chicago, Boston, New York or LA! That’s not a glib comment, it is experiential. This also may be more a reflection of the norms of both societies than the multi-ethnicity element.

  33. bryan

    “So, gladly, our treatment of native populations is so far in our past and is now the heritage we must protect that we do not have similar problems to deal with, i.e., reparations for wrongdoing in the past (with the exception – and I don’t want to go there simply because this thread is not themed on this – of our treatment of the travelling community).”

    Um, We *are* the native people.

  34. GOM

    The “WE” you refer to includes ethnicities derived from several places – all were “natives” of Ireland at one point or another, Milesians, Celts, Vikings, Normans, Saxons, etc….in all cases there was some or other displacement, and maltreatment of the natives. Just because it is in our distant past does not make it any less different from other displacements in the context of the results. The one we most relate to is the most recent when the genocidal maniac coined the term “To the west of the Shannon or to hell”.

    Yes, you are correct, we are the natives – for now :)

  35. bryan

    Jesus wept.

    The vast majority of Irish people are descendents of Iron age settlers. That group is a bottleneck, if only a few hundred came over the land bridge then when later invaders came – thousands of years later, ( Normans)- their impact on the then hundreds of thousands of people here was minimal. In any case you want us to feel guilty for being invaded by Normans, Vikings, and others which is hardly the same position as Americans, more the position of native Americans. We do not speak French or Danish.

    We do speak English, but are not English. I mean get a brain – are you asking Irish people to feel guilty about the “mistreatment of the natives” by Saxons. The “genocidal maniac” was English, and yes he had a plan to exterminate the natives ( i.e. us), and ship us west of the Shannon. That settlement failed ( unlike in Northern Ireland where settlements were succesful and where there is a clear division between groups). Irish people moved back, and Irish remained the predominent language of the country until the famine ( after than it was lost for cultural reasons)

    None of these groups were exterminatory, and so we remain. If we were English ( Saxon, in your terms) there would be no Irish republic. We would be speaking in home country accents, and consider ourselves AngloSaxon. Claptrap.

  36. GOM

    This is way off the point of the thread and I did not want to start a debate on the treatment of native populations by others who happened by their way and decided to become “more Irish than the Irish themselves” or exterminate them. Irrespective of whether we all arose from Iron Age people – let’s extend that to say that all existing hominids originated out of what is now called Tanzania – I don’t get your point about the fact that we originated from Iron Age people’s and its relevance to the displacement of an established population – how long do you have to be in a particular piece of land before you can describe yourself as native – surely longer perhaps than it takes Pat Kenny to get squatter’s rights?

    Nor do I get your point about the magnitude of the effect on hundreds of thousands versus what – a time further in the future when populations had grown so we can now quantify it as a “bigger” shame? I am not asking anyone to feel guilty about anything – not even the US, Canadian or Australian current “natives”…..I am acknowledging the difference between the still existant feeling of guilt to more recent displacements and the lack of guilt for those of the deeper past (due to the effects of time) AND its null effect on our thinking today.

    My point was that the displacements, whether “there you are now, come in for a cup of tea” congenial or “get the f**k off my land” confrontational happened so far in the past that the modern “natives” don’t feel (and rightly so I believe) they are responsible for historic activities – let alone discerning what actually happened and how we can now accurately assess or not the maltreatment of anybody to apportion accountability.

    I will get a brain if you do – but I’d rather stay away from the personal comments and try to understand the point people make before I respond in a shoot from the hip kind of way. And “Jesus wept”…..what has this to do with fairy story characters?

  37. Piotr

    FT article on what’s happening with eastern european immigration in Brittain – not exactly my point of view, but then again not so far off…


  38. Jonas

    Most Lithuanians have already left Irealand for Lithuania and, in some cases, for Iceland.

    At the moment, Irish economy is facing hudge problems.

  39. boris

    I feel sad that Eastern Europeans are returning home, but I guess it brings them joy…

    Roll on the Asians and African lads now…

    Cheers lads and lassies.

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  42. johnpaul

    of course theyll go home , the dole 197 per wk how the fuck u supposed to live on that with the price of everything in this country, obviously theyd be better off going home if they can get jobs at home theyll have a better standard of life than living on social welfare in ireland..

  43. boris

    jeez sorry didnt mean to offend you.

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