Press Centre

MRCI Calls for Political Leadership on the Issue of Migration

PRESS RELEASE: 24 November 2009

The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) is calling for the Irish government to provide proactive leadership on the issue of migration and to acknowledge that migrant workers will play an important part in Ireland’s recovery. This is in response to an Irish Times opinion poll which highlighted a hardening of attitudes towards immigrants in Ireland.

“Now is the time for political leadership that acknowledges the contribution of migration to this country and stops referring to migrants in ‘us and them’ terms”, says Siobhan O’Donoghue, director of the MRCI in responding to today’s poll. She also called on people and communities to take responsibility for how we treat each other as a society and to avoid turning on each other in difficult times, “migrants are us, our neighbours, work colleagues, friends and family. They have contributed far more to this economy than what they have received”.

Ms O’Donoghue points out the irony in the poll’s findings about the health service. She says “the health service in Ireland would undoubtedly collapse along with the private rental sector if all migrants were to leave the country. They played an important part in our economic successes of the past and will play an important part in our economic recovery”.

The poll also highlighted that people are increasingly concerned about their job prospects and financial security with 77 percent of people choosing financial security as becoming more important in their lives compared to a year ago. Helen Lowry, community work coordinator with the MRCI stated “ we are living in a time of fear and insecurity, the blame for the situation we are in lies not in the hands of hard working migrants and their families who have made their homes here. It lies with reckless banking, business practices and government choices made over the past number of years”.

Ms Lowry went on to state that “many migrants have made their home here, have mortgages, children in school and commitments here. From the poll we can see many younger Irish people are facing the prospect of emigration. We know very well the uncertainty and exclusion that Irish emigrants experience in times like these. What we wish for our own emigrants, we should also wish for immigrants here in Ireland”.