Migration: Ireland has the highest share of nationals living abroad of the 34 mainly developed member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): more than 17% of Irish-born persons aged 15 and over, lives overseas. The share of foreign-born persons living in Ireland is also very high, reaching 20% of the total population, following a sharp increase over the years 2001 to 2011. Foreign workers typically originate from other EU member states, as they benefit from free labour movement, as well as from other English-speaking countries.


Net migration from May 2009 to April 2015 by Irish nationals has amounted to 147,000 according to the CSO.

Ireland made 1,060 first instance decisions on asylum applications in 2014 and the Netherlands made 18,970 decisions, according to Eurostat data.

Ireland made 400 positive decisions and the Netherlands made 12,550 — a two-thirds rejection compared with a two-thirds acceptance.

The head of the German migration agency resigned last week because according to Deutsche Welle the average turnaround time for processing asylum applications was more than five months, “a stark difference to Germany’s neighbour the Netherlands, which handles cases in an average of eight days.”

The Irish Times reported in 2014 that the “average wait is currently just under four years. Asylum seekers are not allowed work during this time and are instead given €19.10 per week.”

Last month when thugs attacked a refugee centre in Germany, Chancellor Merkel visited it. Last year the Irish Government vetoed an invitation for President Michael D Higgins to visit an asylum centre in Athlone because off “logistics and safety.”

According to Tuesday's OECD report on migration, at the end of 2013 there were approximately 39,600 non-EEA (European Economic Area: EU28 + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) students registered in Ireland, 33% of the total number of non-EEA nationals with permission to remain in the State. The majority were pursuing degree level higher education study (39%), with 21% engaged in non-degree further education and 27% taking language courses - evidence suggests that some of these courses are used as a cover for selling visas in developing countries.

During 2013, 95,000 entry visa applications were received, an increase of 8% on 2012. Some 91% of all applications were approved. The main origin countries in 2013 were India (16%), the Russian Federation (15%), and China (11%).

There were 900 applications for asylum in Ireland in 2013, the lowest level since 1995 and a decrease of 92% from the peak number of applications in 2002. Nigeria continues to be the largest source country (14%). The refugee recognition rate in Ireland almost doubled during 2013 to 12%. Some 24,300 certificates of naturalisation were issued during 2013, mainly to nationals of Nigeria (5,800), India (3,000), Philippines (2,500), Pakistan (1,800) and Ukraine (700).

The OECD said last week in its Economic Survey of Ireland 2015:

"In net terms, via the migration channel, Ireland has been consistently losing population in the 15-24 and 25-44 age brackets. Prior to the recession, Ireland had one of the largest youth cohorts of the OECD. After the recession this age advantage has decreased (Figure 2.4), especially in the 15-24 age bracket. Demographic challenges are not as pressing as in other OECD countries, but the existing cushion has diminished. Ireland has lower labour market participation rates than other advanced economies (Chapter 1). Hence, Ireland should remain proactive in adapting its policies to its rapidly changing demographics. Most emigrants from Ireland were either employed or studying prior to their departure (Figure 2.7, panel A). Around 60% of those who left in 2009 were in employment, while 16% were unemployed. This has broadly continued over time. More recent data shows that around 40% of the people emigrating were in employment prior to their departure. This suggests that the unemployment situation may not be the only driver of emigration, but that better job rewards in other countries may drive emigration decisions as well. Salary levels for workers aged 36 to 50 seem, on average, relatively high in international comparison. But Ireland seems less competitive concerning median wages for tertiary educated persons aged 20-30 according to OECD’s PIAAC wages data...one out of five Irish emigrants is employed in the health and social work sectors in their destination countries (Figure 2.7). They are also significantly employed in the education sector."

No votes for emigrants

While emigration has been a great safety valve in difficult times as well as a source of funds (GNP was higher than GDP into the 1970s because of remittances), conservative politicians opt for the status quo rather than have a significant number voting from overseas.

Globalirish.ie has said that a 2006 study of countries which allow their emigrants to vote included:

21 African nations
13 North and South American countries
15 Asian countries
6 Pacific countries
36 European countries.

Sixty-five of these countries allow for external voting for everyone, while about 25 place restrictions on it, based on such factors as to whether they intend to return permanently or how long they have been away. Citizens in the US can vote no matter how long they stay away, while citizens of Britain are disqualified after fifteen years away.

Diarmaid Ferriter, the UCD historian, wrote last May:

Ireland is at odds with at least 115 countries around the world, and of the 28 EU members states, only Greece, Malta, Ireland and the Czech Republic do not extend the franchise for national parliaments to its citizens living abroad, and the Maltese government, to its credit, at least subsidises flights for citizens who want to return home to vote. In the other EU states, emigrant voting rights in different types of elections are ensured using a variety of means; in five of those states, separate representation for non-resident citizens in the national parliament is offered.

Earlier this year what is called a diaspora policy document but which is an informational brochure, was published by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Global Irish: Ireland’s Diaspora Policy

An extension of voting rights to Irish citizens outside the State would be welcomed by many in the diaspora. It would allow them to deepen their engagement with Ireland and to play a more active role in Irish society. It would further the wider goal of enhancing diaspora engagement. However, it would also be challenging to introduce and to manage. A range of issues would arise in this context, including policy, legal and practical issues.

This is a mealy-mouthed excuse for cowardice — there is a passport database with the information on many of the potential voters and how do so many other countries manage?

Pic above (top) of the Samuel Beckett Bridge and the Convention Centre in Dublin's Docklands.

Ireland, emigration, overseas 2015