Friday, December 07, 2007

Together towards a new world

The Irish diaspora consists at the top estimate and interpretation contains over 80 million people, which is over fourteen times the population of the island of Ireland itself (5.9 million in 2006). The governement of Ireland defines it in legal terms: the Irish diaspora are those of Irish nationality who habitually reside outside of the island of Ireland. This includes Irish citizens who have emigrated abroad and their children also grand children in some cases ), who are Irish citizens by descent under Irish law. . Under this legal definition, the Irish diaspora is considerably smaller than popular belief - some 3 million persons, of whom 1.2 million are Irish-born emigrants.

Therefore one would think that the Irish would understand the need for others to leave their lands and seek out new shores . The i read this BBC report with interest .

Siobhan O'Donahue , director of a drop-in centre that looks after immigrants in Dublin , describes it thus :-

"We saw them essentially as units of labour. We didn't see them as people with social and community needs. "

An economic boom turned a relatively-poor, agricultural nation into a "Celtic Tiger". To fuel this growth, Ireland needed to allow in workers from the new Eastern European members of the European Union . The result is that now, more than one in seven people in Ireland was born outside the country. Ireland invited immigrants to come and work, without giving any thought to their wider impact. The planning and infrastructure wasn't put in place . Nobody has sought fit to deal with the social needs : schooling, housing, access to healthcare.

The Education Department , for instance , had belatedly realised there were not enough places for immigrants' children . They had been turned down by the local schools. The result was that they ended up in an emergency facility, one that caters almost exclusively for boys and girls of African or Arab origin.

"I would rather my children knew how Irish children live," says one mother there, disappointed to see her son going to school only with other black children.

The Herald carries an article that Scotland needs to attract 20,000 immigrants a year to counter a declining population and to save the economy from collapse over the next 30 years, a government-backed report warns . The alternative is an impoverished future, with a shrinking younger workforce supporting an ageing population. It predicts that by 2017 the country's population may fall below five million for the first time since the 1940s.

The report says "In the last few years, Scotland has recorded clear net in-migration gains. Maintaining or improving this current balance of migration could prove key to addressing the challenges posed by Scotland's ageing population and projected population decline."

Yet Scotland follows the example of Ireland .

Michael Luby, national sales manager at the Big Issue

"It's unbelievable," he said "we're seeing Romanian people come over here expecting work, only to find that they don't get access to the housing, benefits and services any other people get..."

An Edinburgh landlord has been profiting from housing over 50 Romanian migrants in squalid conditions . One of the occupants described the conditions as “misery” while others made allegations of mistreatment .

Yet the mass media choose to concentrate on perpetuating urban myths about the arrival of foreign workers , furthering divisions and mistrust . Eastern European bar staff and doormen are now among the most common victims of racial abuse and assault in Edinburgh.

In 2006 some 400,000 people left Britain, more than half of whom were UK citizens. Britain is becoming a country of revolving doors rather than overflowing floodgates .

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