Press Centre

Migrants contribute over €3.7 billion annually to Irish economy

PRESS RELEASE: 25 November 2008

Figures compiled by Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) show that migrant workers contribute billions to the Irish economy in a variety of ways.  Estimates from MRCI indicate the following annual contributions of migrant workers:

  • €1.5 billion annually in taxes & PRSI
  • €10.86 million in registration fees to the Garda National Immigration Bureau
  • €15.5 million in work permit fees
  • €140 million in third level education tuition fees paid by international students
  • €2 billion approximately in personal consumption*

Recent reports and statements by some commentators, media outlets and politicians have claimed that migrants are receiving benefits disproportionately to others and are a burden on the State.   These reports have omitted the actual contribution migrant workers have made, and continue to make, to Ireland.  “These new figures contradict the perception that is being portrayed by some quarters,” according to Siobhan O’Donoghue, director of the MRCI.  “They suggest that migrants are not claiming disproportionately compared to what they contribute.  Either the facts are being distorted, or the whole story is not being told, in an attempt to score cheap political points and stir up controversy, ultimately scapegoating migrants in the current economic climate.”

According to Ms O’Donoghue, “without migrant workers, there is no doubt the Irish economy would be under even greater strain.  Consider the scenario if all migrant workers left tomorrow; health and care services would collapse, as would the services sector, agriculture, and hospitality.  The private rental sector would be severely hit.  The reality is that migrant workers have been - and will continue to be - a vital part of Ireland’s social and economic life.”

MRCI’s chairperson Bobby Gilmore echoed this point, saying, “migrant workers have been central to our economic growth over the past decade and half.  To suggest that they are somehow a threat is disingenuous and far from the truth.  We are clearly in a financial crisis; the challenge now is to ensure that no one gets left behind.  People in responsible and influential positions are not immune from the tendency to resort to scapegoating groups such as migrants as a means of distracting from bad decisions, explaining away our current reality or seeking attention for their own advancement. At all costs we need to avoid cheap shots at the very people who are helping to hold this country together.”

* Estimate based on CSO figures and average personal consumption (taken from Irish Economic Statistics 2007, Central Bank And Financial Services Authority of Ireland)



Note for Editors - Sources of figures include the following:

  • Central Statistics Office: Foreign Nationals: PPSN Allocations and Employment, 2002-2006, 18th December 2007
  • Central Statistics Office: Industrial Earnings and Hours Worked March and June 2007(Final) , 31st October 2007
  • Central Bank And Financial Services Authority ofIreland: Irish Economic Statistics, 2007
  • Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (direct inquiry)
  • Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (direct inquiry)
  • International Education Board of Ireland (IEBI) report: International Students in Higher Education in Ireland, 2005