Press Centre

New Irish migration figures point to urgent need for reform of labour migration system

  • CSO has released stats on population and migration, revealing that some 90,300 people moved to Ireland last year – 28,400 Irish nationals, 31,000 people from the EU, and 30,900 people from outside the EU.
  • Non-EU migrants still have to navigate a complex, impractical and inflexible immigration system

Responding to the new stats, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) Director Edel McGinley said, “Today’s CSO figures reinforce the need for urgent action to address our flawed labour migration system. As the economy grows, we need workers again, and so workers are moving to Ireland - returning Irish nationals, people from the EU and people from outside the EU in equal proportions.”

“However, those coming from outside the EU have to navigate complex and overly-rigid immigration systems. Workers and employers struggle with an inflexible and impractical work permit system. Students and third-level institutions have to grapple with student visa restrictions, which leave international students with limited rights and few routes to work after their studies.”

McGinley continued, “Our immigration system should be fair and transparent. It should be flexible enough to meet the needs of families, communities and the economy, with clear and balanced criteria and a recognition that no one is just a worker, or just a student, or just a spouse – every one of us fills many roles at once, and every migrant is more than the stamp they hold.”

“The thousands of undocumented workers in the country are the legacy of an unresponsive immigration system. They responded to Ireland’s need for workers when our immigration system failed to. Politicians need to fix the labour migration system now, or they will be choosing to create a new generation of undocumented workers.”

McGinley concluded, “We’re proud of our reputation as a welcoming country, but for a long time now our immigration system has been sending out a very different message. It’s time for our policies to match our history.”