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Governance of Migrant Integration in Ireland

The economic boom of the 1990s increased levels of immigration from other European States to Ireland. But the country only started to significantly attract both economic migrants and asylum seekers from third countries in the early 2000s. Though inflows decreased after the recession of 2007-2009, they remain relatively high.

Statistics

Foreign population in Ireland - DataOn 1 April 2017, around 139 600 Third Country Nationals (TCNs) were living in Ireland. They represented 3% of the total population, according to the Central Statistics OfficeMost came from Brazil (13%), India (12%) and China (12%). 64% had valid temporary residence permits and 36% were long-term residents.  

In 2016, 95 646 permits were issued for mainly studies (33 434), long term residency (29 554), and Economic reasons (14 050).

In addition to foreign citizens, it is estimated that up to 45% of adult non-EU immigrants residing in Ireland had the Irish citizenship at end of 2015. Respectively 10 044 and 8 199 individuals were further naturalised in 2016 and 2017. India, Nigeria and The Philippines are among the most represented countries of origin.

Integration Strategy

To integrate or foster the social inclusion of these populations with migrant background, Ireland set up its first govern Migrant Integration Strategy in 2017 for a 4-year period. The policy document detailing the country’s strategy for migrant integration governance targets all migrants, including refugees, and foresees actions involving to all Government Departments. It plans to improve the quality of integration services through interpretation support and to provide training to frontline staff for example. One of its main goals in terms of employment is to reach a rate of 1% civil servants from minority ethnic communities.

Prior to the strategy, Ireland published a Statement on Integration Strategy and Diversity Management in 2008 which set out the key principles for successful integration:

  • partnership approach between Government and non-governmental organisations
  • strong link between integration policy and wider state social inclusion measures
  • clear public policy focus that avoids the creation of parallel communities
  • commitment to effective local delivery mechanisms that align services to migrants with those for indigenous communities.

The country also had an Intercultural Education Strategy for the period 2010-2015 and a National Intercultural Health Strategy for the period 2007-2012.

Integration Programme

Since September 2015, Ireland has an integration programme for those arriving in the country through the EU relocation or resettlement schemes and accepted under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme which includes:

 þ language courses

 þ civic education (cultural orientation)

 ý vocational training

The programme also provides:

  • accommodation in Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres and housing, once the refugee status is confirmed
  • free childcare wherever possible to allow adults to attend the ‘Language and Orientation’ programme
  • a card entitling beneficiaries to free medical care in public hospitals as well as an assigned doctor
  • an assigned resettlement worker and an Intercultural Support Worker from Local authorities

Evaluation

Since 2010, comprehensive evaluations of third country nationals’ integration outcomes have been conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute. The latest Monitoring Report on Integration was published in 2016. It focussed on naturalisation (45% of non-EU immigrant population had Irish citizenship), employment (60% were active) education (the immigrant population showed lower reading and mathematics score than the native population) and poverty (21% of non-Irish vs 16% of Irish Nationals were living below income poverty line). The same research institute dedicated a study to migrant labour market inclusion in 2008 and to diversity of Irish schools in 2009.

In addition, the 2017-2020 Migrant Integration Strategy foresees to monitor current school enrolment policies and assess their impact.

Legislation

þ     Foreigners Law

Irelands’ first Aliens Act was enacted in 1935. It was greatly amended by the Immigration Act of 1999 and 2004. While the earlier provides for the deportation, arrest and detention of 'non-nationals', the latter provides for the entitlement to Irish citizenship of persons born to certain categories of non-Irish national parents.

þ     Asylum Law

The 2015 International Protection Act amends the Foreigners law and regulates different steps of the asylum application procedure. The Act replaces the Refugee Act 1996 and is meant to bring Ireland in line with its EU counterparts in relation to the asylum Single Application Procedure.

ý     Integration Law

Ireland does not have a self-standing integration law.

þ     Nationality Law

The Irish Citizenship Law was adopted in 1956 and last amended in 2011 to among other changes facilitate applications from civil partners of Irish citizens.

þ     Anti-discrimination

Anti-discrimination in Ireland is regulated by the Equal Status Act  of 2000 and the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act of 1989.

Public authorities

The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration at the Department of Justice and Equality is the authority leading the governance of migrant integration in Ireland. It develops and co-ordinates cross-government integration policies and issues.

Local authorities support refugees to find housing with the help of support workers and volunteers. The new Migrant Integration Strategy further foresees the establishment of local networks aimed at reaching out to hard-to-reach migrant groups, helping them engage with Government Departments.

Civil society

A newly created Migrant Integration Strategy Monitoring and Co-ordination Committee oversees the implementation of the Integration Strategy, defines monitoring indicators and may make recommendations on further actions. The Committee meets 3 times a year in plenary and other times in meetings of sub-committees. The role of the sub-committees is to lead the implementation and monitoring of actions in thematic areas: Citizenship, Education, Employment, Intercultural Awareness, Fight against Racism and Xenophobia, Access to Public Services and Social Inclusion. The Committee’s membership is made of key Government Departments and Agencies as well as civil society organisations.

Prior to the Committee, a Ministerial Council on Integration created in 2010 advised the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration, Department of Justice and Equality on issues faced by migrants in Ireland since 2010. It was made of 4 regional councils with each 15 to 20 members appointed for 5 years.

Funding

Non-profit organisations and local authorities can apply for financing for integration projects through several funds. EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) is the most important one in terms of budget. Coordinated by the Funds Unit of Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration, the national allocation for Ireland under AMIF is € 52 000 000. 4 500 000 of this amount is allocated to integration projects in 2016 over a 3-year period, it is envisaged another 4 500 000 will be allocated on an open call basis in 2018, for a further 3-year period. Intercultural dialogue, language training, education on rights and duties and political participation are the integration priorities of Irish AMIF programme.

In addition, national and philanthropic funds are made available for service providers and other stakeholders to carry out projects aiming for a better integration of the migrant population.

In 2017, the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration has granted €9.7 million to 40 national and 131 regional projects to support integration over the next three to four years with both EU and Irish Government funding. Projects are aimed at promoting integration, combating racism and xenophobia, and increasing mutual understanding between migrants and their host communities. 

Public funding Private funding

Other stakeholders

þ      Providing integration services

ý     Implementing Integration Programme

þ     Campaigning

þ      Publishing statistics