- Net immigration country since mid-1990s, with 15% foreign-born and mostly EU citizens (65%)
- Sharp drop in new arrivals after start of economic crisis
- Overall employment rate droped by 10% from 2007 to 2012 but started to rebound in 2013 & 2014
- 2011 general election saw Fianna Fáil replaced by Fine Gael-Labour coalition
- As in most Western European countries, slight majority of IE think immigrants enrich IE culturally & economically and should have the same rights as IE citizens
- Rank: 19 out of 38
- MIPEX Score: 52
- LABOUR MARKET MOBILITY 38
- FAMILY REUNION 40
- EDUCATION 30
- HEALTH 58
- POLITICAL PARTICIPATION 73
- PERMANENT RESIDENCE 49
- ACCESS TO NATIONALITY 59
- ANTI-DISCRIMINATION 66
Changes in context
Key Common Statistics
|Country of net migration since:||% Non-EU citizens||% Foreign-born||% Non-EU of foreign-born||% Non-EU university-educated||% from low or medium-developed (HDI) country|
|UN 2010 data in 2013||Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013||Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013|
Changes in policy
Little has changed in the government's role and policies on integration, other than ad hoc projects, discussions and guidelines. National authorities are not doing much more than they did in 2007 (only +1 on MIPEX scale in 7 years). Overall, little has been done to improve non-EU citizens' chances for family reunion, long-term residence or rapid labour market integration. Moreover, funding has been cut for targeted support (e.g. for labour market mobility, education, equality bodies/policies), while residence and citizenship fees are now relatively high by international standards. A few families may see the positive effects of recent guidelines on family reunion and victims of domestic violence, which promise some of the minimum standards guaranteed in most other countries' legislation. Most positively, political will turned around IE's low naturalisation rates and created world-class procedures and ceremonies. However, such achievements can come and go (like the 2010 Ministerial Council on Integration, funding for equality bodies and funding since 2008 or family migrants' labour market access since 2009) unless they are secured in law. For example, IE recently improved on MIPEX when same-sex partners were legally guaranteed equal chances to reunite in IE and become citizens. Immigration reform has been left languishing in IE longer than in few other MIPEX countries (e.g. US), with plans for an Immigration and Residence Bill dating back to 2002.
Conclusions and recommendations
With an overall score of 52/100, IE’s integration policies create only slightly more opportunities than obstacles for non-EU immigrants to invest in integration and participate in IE society. In comparison, these policies rank 19th out of 38 countries, below all Western European countries except AT and CH. Immigrants benefit from more targeted support and clearer paths to family reunion and long-term residence in most other English-speaking and Western European countries, including new countries of immigration undergoing austerity (e.g. IT, PT, ES). Since IE is missing robust evaluations of the impact of its integration policies, the MIPEX results on policies, beneficiaries and outcomes can foster debate and complement other qualitative studies and quantitative data (e.g. ESRI’s Annual Integration Monitoring).
The traditional areas of strength on integration in IE – political participation and anti-discrimination – seem to produce positive effects as immigrants and their organisations become civically active and also begin to report discrimination. In other areas of integration, immigrants experience both opportunities and obstacles to participate in society. Results in the new MIPEX area – health – show that eligible immigrant patients can benefit from more accessible and responsive health services, although IE’s leading Intercultural Health Strategy should be up for renewal in 2015. While many working-age non-EU immigrants find their way in IE’s inclusive and flexible labour market, their access to training and education is comparatively limited and their uptake is rather low. Small gaps emerge over the long-term in employment rates and quality for university-educated men and women. IE schools are also slow to respond to the growing number of immigrant pupils who bring specific language and academic needs and opportunities to the classroom.
IE’s areas of weakness are clearly undermining immigrants’ integration and falling below the standards in most other countries. IE has some of the most discretionary family reunion, residence and citizenship policies in the developed world, meaning that non-EU citizens are less likely to reunite with their family, become long-term residents or, until recently, become citizens in IE than in nearly all other European countries. Following European and international reform trends, immigration reform in IE may provide clear entitlements with a great potential to boost integration outcomes in several areas of life.
Policy Recommendations from Immigrant Council of Ireland
- Recognise the permanent nature of migration by concretely improving the social, economic and legal situation of settled residents in a new comprehensive National Integration Strategy
- Increase IE’s very low levels of family reunion and long-term residence among the many eligible families and settled residents by comprehensively reforming Immigration and Residence legislation, including a clear entitlement to both and an independent appeals mechanism
- Maintain IE’s efforts to catch up on naturalisation rates by further promoting and reforming the citizenship process, including lowering the high costs where possible
- Guarantee and monitor equal access, support and opportunities for immigrant pupils in all types of schools by including integration in a school admissions bill
POLICIES - SUMMARY
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POLICIES - DETAILS
Labour Market Mobility
While integration is happening over time on IE's inclusive and flexible labour market, policies delay and discourage access and training for more non-EU residents in IE than in most other countries; IE has similar needs as other European countries to recognise, develop and use the skills of its non-EU residents likely to settle long-term
How many immigrants could be employed?
The situation of non-EU citizens is not so different from the average European country. 1/3 of working-age non-EU citizens in IE as elsewhere are not in employment, education or training. The level is generally the same for low-educated men and high-educated women, but rises to 2/3 for low-educated women, as in other European countries (similar in FR, DE, UK).
Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?
IE misses out on the long-term economic potential of its non-EU residents. These policies keep several types of non-EU residents outside the labour market or in jobs below their qualifications. The legal options and support for newcomer non-EU residents is still slightly unfavourable for developing and using their skills for their long-term integration. In contrast, non-EU newcomers are given a more equal starting position in nearly all other countries, with IE ranking 33rd out of 38 with scores only lower in CY, DK and TU. Despite the clear needs for these policies, little has changed since 2007, besides a few changes to the work permit regime (e.g. Immigrant Investor and Start-Up Entrepreneur Programmes). Unlike in most countries, many types of non-EU residents cannot equally apply for private and public sector jobs, start businesses or enrol in training and education, more so than in other countries. Targeted support remains a weakness in IE and most countries, while the procedures to recognise their non-EU degrees and skills are complex and uneven.
Dimension 1: Access to labour market
- Equal access to labour market is delayed more often for non-EU residents in IE than in most Western European and English-speaking countries
- Since 2009, IE is one of only 7 EU countries delaying labour market integration for certain family migrants (see recent openings of equal access to employment and self-employment in AT, GR, ES)
- Non-EU citizens do not have equal access to public sector jobs, unlike in 15 countries (e.g. most English-speaking and Nordic countries)
- Since 2010, labour migrants have grace period of 6 months to freely find a new job if they lost their job after ≥ 5 years or were made redundant involuntarily after < 5 years. Since 2013, non-EU legal residents can fill recognised high-skilled shortage jobs if they pass the procedure
Dimension 2: Access to general support
- Non-EU citizens in IE face greater obstacles to develop and formally recognise their professional skills in IE than in all other MIPEX countries, despite the potentially large benefits for labour market integration
- Non-EU residents are more often restricted from state training programmes, study grants, and publically-funded third-level courses (see e.g. FR, NO, SE, Southern Europe)
- Procedures remain complex and uneven to recognise non-EU qualifications and skills (see recent work by National Qualifications Authority of Ireland and more positive developments in 14 countries, e.g. AU, CA, DK, DE, NL, NZ, SE, UK)
Dimension 3: Targeted support
- Non-EU residents can get basic information and training in IE as in most countries
- New Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) serves as one-stop-shop to recognise qualifications, though procedures can be long and costly
- Work-related English and targeted job search through EPIC (see box)
- Basic information in several languages on jobs and workers' rights
Dimension 4: Workers' rights
- Once non-EU residents find jobs, they generally enjoy the same working conditions and rights as IE citizens
- Access to social security and housing benefits are dependent on what's known as the 'habitual residence condition' (see full access in 14 countries, e.g. CA, FR, DE, NL, Nordics)
Starting as a pilot in 2006 and running since 2008, Employment for People from Immigrant Communitieis (EPIC) offers a unique programme in Dublin only with 6-week work-related English and job-search assistance, including a Training and Employment Officer (TEO). Recently, EPIC announced that 1536 immigrants from 99 nationalities have been reached by EPIC, with 2/3 taking up jobs, training or volunteering. In other European and English-speaking countries, more extensive programmes offer work-related language programmes, sector-specific bridging/placements and mentoring programmes (e.g. AU/CA/NZ, DE, Nordics, PT).
Are immigrants acquiring new skills?
Only 17% of working-age non-EU citizen men and women were recently enrolled in education or training in IE, as was average across Europe in 2011/2. Uptake was higher in countries facilitating labour market mobility and access to general training (e.g. Nordics, NL, UK). Moreover, over 1/2 of unemployed non-EU citizens in IE had to look for a new job without the support of unemployment benefits, based on very rough estimates for IE. Similar gaps in support emerged across most European countries.
What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?
- Pre-crisis high employment rates and GDP growth
- Some of the most flexible employment protection legislation in IE and other English-speaking countries
- 1/2 of recent migrants coming with temporary work or study permits in IE and other English-speaking countries
- Large numbers coming with some exposure to the language in IE and other English-speaking countries
Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?
Labour market integration has happened over time, due to IE's inclusive and flexible labour market. After 10+ years in IE, long-settled non-EU men and women with low levels of education are just as likely to have a job as the low-educated IE-born. Slight gaps emerge for university-educated non-EU-born men and women, who are 10-15% less likely to be employed than the university-educated IE-born and 25% more likely to be overqualified when employed. No comparable data is available on low-educated non-EU workers' exposure to in-work poverty. International research finds that employment outcomes are better for immigrants who get legal access to the labour market, a formal recognition of their foreign degree, a new domestic degree and/or domestic work experience and a level of language skills commensurate with their education.
IE's family reunion policies are some of the least family-friendly in the developed world, with the 3rd lowest score in MIPEX; the small number of non-EU residents in IE who are separated from their family almost never reunite with them in IE, far below the levels in all other EU countries
How many immigrants are potentially living in transnational couples?
Since separated families are not identified in immigration statistics and assisted to reunite, the report monitors the number of non-EU citizen adults who are not living with their spouse or partner. These non-EU citizens are likely living in internationally separated couples and thus potential sponsors for family reunion. The numbers are relatively small in IE (around 4.4% of adult non-EU citizens), which is similar to many other European countries.
How easily can immigrants reunite with family?
A few families will benefit from small improvements in the procedure since 2010 (+4 on MIPEX). Although the residence permits issued cost twice as much, authorities can now offer residence to civil partners, de facto partners and victims of domestic violence and must justify any rejection in writing (see box). These changes reflect IE's changing definition of the family and a few of the minimum safeguards for families that are standard in most other countries. Beyond these positive first steps, non-EU family members still face greater obstacles to reunite and to integrate in IE than in nearly all other developed countries. The only countries with more restrictive policies are CY, as part of its temporary migration model, and recently in the UK as part of its migration cap. Separated families have been waiting for over a decade for an Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill to create Ireland’s first comprehensive law on family reunion.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- The eligibility criteria are slightly unfavourable for family reunion and integration: rather limited definition of the family and no right to reunite (ranking 33 out of 38)
- Definitions slightly enlarged to reflect modern IE families
- Civil partners treated the same as spouses under immigration law, since 2011 following Civil Partnership Act (24/2010)
- De facto partners (2+ years' cohabitation) have greater possibility to be reunited as of 2013
- Few families can in IE reunite; Beyond refugees, others are at the mercy of the Minister
- The majority of other countries give a right to most temporary residents immediately (14) or after 1 year (10) to reunite with spouses/partners, minor children and, under certain dependency conditions, adult children/parents (25)
Dimension 2: Conditions
- Requirements on paper are similar to most other countries
- Sponsors must pass a demanding economic resource requirement (more basic in 22 countries) and pay a high fee (300€ since 2012, higher than in most countries)
- High fee and income requirement in IE follow developments in UK, where pre-entry English test has also restricted migration (similar tests in only 7 other countries and subject to review by courts)
Dimension 3: Security of status
- These average legal conditions matter little, because the Minister retains absolute discretion to accept or reject families
- Current procedures are slightly more favourable (+20 points) since rejected families can now learn the reasons why (since 2014) and victims of domestic violence are better projected against withdrawal (since 2012 as in 16 other countries), so long as these guidelines are implemented by authorities
- For other reasons, families in IE are still slightly insecure in their status, unlike in 29 other countries
- Options and legal aid are still limited for review of family reunion decisions. There is no independent appeal mechanism. Judicial review in the High Court may be possible in some cases but these are very lengthy and expensive proceedings for all parties to the legal action, and families must bear all the costs if they lose
- In nearly all MIPEX countries, families are better guaranteed that the procedure will be short, their personal circumstances considered and any decision open to appeal before an independent body or court
Dimension 4: Rights associated
- Family members that succeed in being reunited still suffer the most unfavourable conditions for integration in the 38 MIPEX countries, even worse than in HU or TU
- Since the current guidelines are not binding law, families have no right to their own permit, even if widowed or abused. If they lose or leave their sponsor, they can lose their right to stay (full or conditional rights in 33 countries, e.g. AU, CA, NO, NZ, PT, ES)
- Current policies delay adult family members' social and economic integration
- Spouses/partners and children turning 18 can be denied equal access to the labour market (unlike in 25 countries) as well as to education, training, social security and housing benefits (unlike in 23, i.e. CA and most of Western Europe)
Recent changes clarify how authorities will use ministerial discretion on family reunion, without creating or recognising any new rights. August 2012 Guidelines recognises that residence applications can be made by victims of domestic violence who are dependents of IE nationals or legal residents. The major reference point is the December 2013 policy document on non-EEA family reunification. The guidelines claim to 'cover the same grounds as the EU Directive on Family Reunification' and take into consideration 'comparative systems and practises in other common law jurisdictions where those are relevant to the Irish situation.' The guidelines' provisions would not comply with the referenced EU law standards or with the average policy in other English-speaking countries where many Irish citizens benefit from these countries’ more generous family reunion policies.
Are families reuniting?
Hardly any non-EU family members have reunited in IE in the last years. IE reported to Eurostat that only 117 family members joined a non-EU sponsor in 2013. The numbers were almost as low in recent years (e.g. 568 in 2009 was highest number since 2008). Most seem to be refugees based on their nationalities (AF, IQ, SO, SD). Hardly any elderly over 65 and relatively few children have been able to reunite with family in IE. These are the lowest numbers of non-EU family reunions in the entire EU, even compared to new small countries of immigration (307 in CY, 653 in EE, 787 in PL). The impact of the new guidelines cannot be measured as comparable data is not yet available for 2014.
What other factors explain whether immigrants reunite with family?
- Many newcomers now settling down in IE as in other formerly new countries of immigration
- 2/3 of non-EU citizens from low-to-medium developing countries and thus more likely to reunite
- Around 1/4 in IE with short-term permits (<1 year) and may be deemed ineligible to sponsor in IE
How often do immigrants reunite with family?
Non-EU families are less likely to reunite in IE than in any other European country. IE has had one of the lowest and most inequitable rates of non-EU family reunion in Europe. For example, since 2011, only 1-2 family members were reunited every year for every 1000 non-EU residents in IE. The average in the EU is 2 family members for every 100 non-EU residents. While the rates in IE are lower for all nationalities than in other countries, IE's rates are also the most inequitable in the EU. The rates approach the low level of 1 family member per 100 residents for certain refugee-producing countries (e.g. AF, SO, SY) but remain at zero for other major immigrant groups (e.g. CN, IN, NG, PH, US). IE's policies are likely the major factor deterring immigrant families. Non-EU families are less likely to reunite in countries with restrictive family reunion policies, such as IE, CY, EE and GR than in countries with inclusive policies, such as the Nordic and Central European countries.
As in other new countries of immigration, IE schools are slow to respond to the needs and opportunities brought by the growing number of immigrant pupils
How many pupils have immigrant parents?
Though only a recent country of net immigration, IE now has a sizeable minority of immigrant pupils in its schools. According to the 2012 PISA study, 8.5% of 15-year-olds are 1st generation, while just 1.7% are 2nd generation born in IE. These numbers are comparable to other large new destination countries, such as ES and GR.
Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?
As in other new countries of immigration, IE schools are only slowly starting to receive support to help newcomers catch up, feel welcome and attain high levels of achievement. IE's targeted education policies emerge as rather weak and rank 24t, behind the UK, other English-speaking countries and several new destination countries, such as PT. IE's approach to intercultural education is a strength similar to most Western European countries. Immigrant parents and pupils receive slightly less support to access schools and target any specific learning needs. Moreover, IE is one of the very few countries completely overlooking the new opportunities that immigrant pupils bring to school for language learning and social integration. Since 2010, the level of support has not much improved, although the level of awareness has increased among practitioners, policymakers and the public.
Dimension 1: Access
- All pupils can access compulsory education and general support for disadvantaged families
- Only ad hoc projects to help immigrant parents choose the right school for their children or increase the number of resident immigrant pupils in pre-primary education, apprenticeships or universities (unlike in Nordics and traditional countries of imigration)
- Barriers based on legal status emerge for vocational and higher education (greater access in 16 countries)
Dimension 2: Targeting needs
- Support only goes halfway to address the specific needs of newcomer pupils in IE (ranked 20th alongside late-comers AT, DE, CH, see instead AU/CA/NZ/US, FI/NO/SE, LU, PT)
- Boom-time funding and projects did not create systems that allow all schools to address or monitor these needs under austerity
- March 2011 study identified value for money of English as Additional Language primary and post-primary courses
- The curriculum and teachers are supposed to be high-quality, while pre- and in-service training covers intercultural realities in IE today
- Schools do not receive the systematic financial and professional support to help them become accessible and responsive to immigrant pupils (one or both provided in 22 countries, e.g. well-evaluated former Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant in UK)
- Orientation of newcomer parents is rather limited (stronger with intercultural mediators/interpreters in 11 countries)
Dimension 3: New opportunities
- Immigrants' languages, cultures and social integration are overlooked in IE
- Unlike IE, most of the 10 other countries missing out on these new opportunities have very new and very small immigrant communities
- Beyond ad hoc projects, IE schools are not strongly encouraged or required to build bridges and develop/share immigrants' skills with interested non-immigrant pupils
- Government advised on patronage and pluralism in primary sector in March 2011 Forum
- Most countries teach immigrant languages and cultures (though mostly only to immigrant pupils)
- A few Northern European and traditional countries of immigration have promising nationwide initiatives on social integration, outreach to immigrant parents and support for immigrant teachers
Dimension 4: Intercultural education
- Intercultural Education Strategy is the point of reference from 2010-2015
- Since 2010, the Integration Minister's Office has had a role on promoting intercultural education and diversity in society
- Support to implement this strategy ranked 12th out of 38, alongside AT, certain CA/US jurisdictions, but far behind the support in UK, AU/NZ and several Nordic countries
- These countries are changing and monitoring the curriculum so that pupils learn about cultural diversity throughout the day and also in specific subjects, such as citizenship education
Are pupils with limited literacy getting remedial courses?
Foreign-born 15-year-olds with low-literacy scores on PISA are 3x as likely to benefit from extra out-of-school literacy courses in IE than IE pupils with low-literacy. These estimates of enrollment came to around 58% for the 1st generation and 21% for non-immigrants in IE. This one indicator on extra out-of-school courses suggests that support is reaching some but not all pupils in need, including non-immigrant pupils with similar literacy problems. Rates are similar for immigrant and non-immigrant pupils in AU/NZ and higher in US, UK and Nordic countries.
What other factors explain whether the children of immigrants excel at school?
- Relatively few immigrant or non-immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers are concentrated in disadvantaged schools in IE or other English-speaking countries
- ≈50% of 1st/2nd generation speak English at home in IE (as in CA, NZ, UK)
- 25% of foreign-born pupils arrive after age 12 in IE as in other English-speaking countries
- High % of GDP spent on education in IE and Northwest Europe but relatively high student-teacher ratios in IE and other English-speaking countries
How well are the children of immigrants achieving at school?
Comparing foreign-born and non-immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers, the foreign-born in IE are 40% more likely to be low-achievers on PISA math tests. While around 1/4 of IE-born 15-year-olds with low-educated mothers lacked these basic math skills, the level rises to 1/3 for the 1st generation. This gap does not seem to appear for the 2nd generation in IE, similar to the other English-speaking countries. These outcomes may be explained by IE's rather inclusive school system as well as immigrant families' English skills and countries of origin. Piloting and evaluating targeted policies may still be useful to address immigrant pupils' specific learning needs and help newcomers quickly learn English and catch up academically.
Strong information and language support and promising efforts to support these changes through migrant health policies: HSE Social Inclusion Office following up on Intercultural Health Strategy
Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?
Through the Intercultural Health Strategy 2007-12, migrant health policy took the lead to engage many in the health sector to become slightly more accessible and responsive. Drawing on the world-leading approaches in other English-speaking countries, IE has adopted policies that are slightly favourable for serving migrant patients, ranked 10th ahead of many countries on the continent. Migrant patients should benefit from clearer information and staff with greater intercultural competence, though they may face a few gaps in their entitlements and service-providers' capacity. These policies will need to be maintained and expanded in future national integration strategies.
Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE.
Dimension 1: Entitlements
- Not all migrants are fully covered, with several legal and practical limitations in IE as in the average MIPEX country
- Legal migrants receive equal healthcare coverage with 'ordinary residence' and the right documentation
- Coverage provided for asylum-seekers living in direct provision
- Undocumented migrants only receive coverage based on discretionary decisions about whether the care is 'essential' and whether they are unable to pay
Dimension 2: Access policies
- All categories of migrants can get informed about health entitlements, the healthcare system and health issues through several multilingual means, developed under the Intercultural Health Strategy 2007-2012 by the Health Service (HSE) with NGOs (see box)
- Migrants may have difficulties to access services because health services lack cultural mediators and proper guidance about migrants' entitlements (see FR, CH, US)
Dimension 3: Responsive services
- IE's Health services have started to respond to migrant patients' specific health needs thanks to the Intercultural Health Strategy 2007-12 (see box)
- Interpretation is sometimes available in person, by telephone or through community volunteeers
- Staff can receive some guidance and basic training to develop their intercultural competence
- IE leads among the new countries of immigration and can learn from well-developed practices in other English-speaking countries
Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change
- IE led most countries in developing migrant health policies that were rather helpful to make services more responsive
- Intercultural Health Strategy 2007-12 obtained commitments throughout the health system with leadership from the HSE Social Inclusion Office
- The anticipated National Integration Strategy should maintain and expand these commitments, including through more policy-relevant research and structural consultation with stakeholders (see also NO and other English-speaking countries)
The Intercultural Health Strategy 2007-12 was developed with immigrant-run and -serving NGOs. Service providers can use resources such as training on intercultural competence, an Intercultural Guide and Guidelines for Communication in Cross-Cultural General Practice Consultations. The HSE Social Inclusion Office continues to collaborate with academics, non-statutory agencies and migrant organisations to provide better information (e.g. cultural mediation), services (e.g. specialised FGM clinic) and research (e.g. communication guidelines).
IE is promoting high levels of political participation among non-EU immigrants in practice
Who are disenfranchised from voting?
No ordinary non-EU resident in IE is left out of the democratic process, as all ordinary residents are enfranchised in local elections.
Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?
Immigrants benefit from Ireland’s traditionally inclusive political community, a strong point for its integration policy. These policies rank 6th, just behind other Northern European countries and NZ. IE promotes the political participation of immigrants through inclusive voting rights and support for immigrant-run organisations, though consultation remains rather weak. Promoting naturalisation is also likely to expand IE's rather inclusive democracy and lead to greater outreach to IE's newly naturalised citizens.
Dimension 1: Electoral rights
- EU citizens and third country nationals who are 'ordinarily resident' in the municipality where the election is held
Dimension 2: Political liberties
- All ordinary residents in IE enjoy the same basic political liberties, as in most countries
Dimension 3: Consultative bodies
- Like other new immigration countries, IE is starting to consult new communities in some way in several cities and areas; these mechanisms are still given a rather weak role in IE as in most countries
- NCP local fora are immigrant-organised and led for several years now; the time may come for more structural bodies with a clearer institutional mandate to inform policy and represent the diversity of immigrants
- 2010 attempt at a Ministerial Council on Integration with slightly weak powers: government-led regional forums with diverse but government-appointed representatives and no independent powers
- Since then, immigrant-run NGOs again consulted on ad hoc basis at national level (NGO forum since 2013)
Dimension 4: Implementation policies
- New communities can organise themselves thanks to government funding and outreach
- Examples are AKiDWA, for migrant women, and the New Communities Partnership (NCP), representing minority and immigrant-led organisations
- Campaigns to inform migrants of their political rights continued in 2014 local elections (e.g. Dublin's often cited 'Migrant Voters' campaign) and may expand to newly naturalised IE citizens (e.g. 2011 'Count me In' awareness campaign)
How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?
Local democracy in IE is 100% inclusive of non-EU ordinary residents. Inclusive voting rights have expanded the franchise to nearly all immigrants in EE, FI (and NZ at all levels). The vast majority (around 85%) enjoy the local franchise in countries such as DK, NL and SE. Still, IE is not yet a fully inclusive democracy when looking at both the number of enfranchised and naturalised non-EU citizens. The latest comparable data from 2011/2 observes that only an estimated 1/4 of the non-EU-born had become IE citizens with the right to vote in national elections. This number may increase in the future if IE is able to maintain its currently high naturalisation rates for the large number of 'potential citizens' with the required 5+ years' residence to naturalise.
What other factors explain whether immigrants become politically active?
- Around 60% are university-educated in IE
- 1/3 from highly developed countries with higher levels of civic engagement
- Generally high levels of civic engagement in IE and other English-speaking countries
Are immigrants participating in political life?
Long-settled non-EU-born adults seem actually more likely to participate politically than the IE-born. In the 2000s, around 2/3 of long-settled residents (10+ years' stay) reported recently taking part in a political party, association, petition, demonstration or contacting a politician, compared to 1/2 of the IE-born. Political participation was also generally equitable for immigrants in UK, Nordics, Benelux, FR, PT and ES.
The most discretionary eligibility rules and procedures in the developed world; Although 2/3 of non-EU citizens have lived in IE for 5+ years, hardly any are long-term or permanent residents, the lowest and most inequitable levels in Europe, with potentially negative consequences for long-term integration
Who can become long-term residents?
While IE is a recent new country of immigration, most non-EU citizens have now settled there for the 5+ years required to become long-term residents, according to 2011/2 estimates. Around 2/3 of non-EU citizen men and women could be long-term residents in IE, as in most other European countries with many newcomers (e.g. FI, UK).
How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?
Until they become citizens, non-EU residents are left insecure in their status because IE still lacks the basic entitlement to long-term or permanent residence that all other countries provide to most of their ordinary residents (see box). Its policy creates as many opportunities as obstacles for integration, ranking 35th out of 38, just ahead of the restrictive CY and FR and discretionary TU. To obtain the same basic socio-economic rights as IE citizens, non-EU citizens have two options (long-term residency and WCATT), but neither is a real solution; behind the rather favourable requirements on paper lies the most unclear and discretionary procedure of all 38 countries. This set-up has not changed since 2007 and will not unless a clear entitlement is written into a future Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- No non-EU resident is clearly eligible to become a long-term resident, unlike in all other MIPEX countries (only restrictive right in FR scores so low)
- Non-EU residents can apply under two discretionary options: long-term residency for workers after 5 years or 'permission to remain without condition as to time' (WCATT) after 8 years
Dimension 2: Conditions
- The good character requirements are similar on paper in IE to those in around a dozen MIPEX countries, such as US and several Western European countries, including new destinations (e.g. FI, PT, ES)
- Depending on their permit, non-EU residents will have to have worked, while applicants for long-term residency since 2009 must pay 500€, a high fee by international standards
Dimension 3: Security of status
- Non-EU citizens in IE experience the most discretionary procedure and most insecure status, compared to all other MIPEX countries
- Applications can be rejected and the status withdrawn on several vague grounds, without clear protections against expulsion
- Rejected applicants are not guaranteed the right to a reasoned decision and appeal, unlike in nearly all other countries
Dimension 4: Rights Associated
- The few long-term and permanent residents should be guaranteed equal rights to work, study and live in IE with the same social and economic rights as IE citizens, as in 29 other MIPEX countries
While IE's national policy is far below the EU standards set in the EU long-term residence directive, the IE High Court's found the policy should be giving regard to and interpreted in a manner consistent with these standards (Hussein v. Minister for Justice  IEHC 34).
How many immigrants are long-term residents?
The number of national long-term residents reported by IE to Eurostat has fluctuated between 3,000-8,000 from 2008 to 2013. Only a few hundred have been issued every year. The number of new applications has also fallen dramatically since 2010. Non-EU citizens in IE are not able to obtain a status that would provide the right to work or residence in other EU Member States, since IE opts out of the EU long-term residence directive.
What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?
- Many newcomers now settling down in IE as in other formerly new countries of immigration
- Around 1/4 in IE with short-term permits (<1 year) and may be deemed ineligible for long-term residency
- Naturalisation is the other option for long-settled non-EU citizens to secure residence and equal rights
How often do immigrants become long-term residents?
Though estimates suggest that 2/3 of non-EU citizens could be long-term residents, only 3% were long-term residents by 2013. ESRI's Annual Integration Monitoring Report reported similarly low numbers from 2010-2012 (from 6.3% in 2010 to 4.8% in 2012). Over these years, non-EU citizens are less likely to become long-term residents than in most other European countries, except for countries with as restrictive policies as IE, such as BG, CY, and DK. Across European countries, the number of permanent residents strongly reflects their path to permanent residence and citizenship. New countries of immigration with restrictive long-term residence policies end up with very few long-term residents (e.g. CY, GR, IE, MT). Furthermore, the few long-term residents in IE, BG and DK are not at all representative of these countries' non-EU residents in terms of their age, gender and nationality. This statistic suggests that long-term residence is highly selective in IE and rarely available to ordinary residents. Unless they naturalise as IE citizens, most non-EU citizens will not enjoy the full support and equal opportunities, with potentially negative long-term consequences for their integration (e.g. see Corrigan 2014).
Access to Nationality
Government uses discretion to turn long restrictive procedure into clear path for citizenship, but still requires political will and high costs
Who can become a citizen?
Already by 2011/2, an estimated two-thirds of the non-EU citizens in IE had lived there at least 5 years, which is a relatively high share of potential citizens, compared to other European countries.
How easily can immigrants become citizens?
IE's path to citizenship can be used as an asset for integration. Since 2011, the Minister has used his 'absolute discretion' to encourage immigrants to become citizens through streamlined requirements, shorter processing times and citizenship ceremonies. These best practices can be secured through continued political will and legal reform.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- As newcomers settle long-term, many should qualify for Irish citizenship under its favourable eligibility rules. These rules are being adopted by other new immigration countries, such as short and flexible residence requirements (5 years most common in MIPEX countries) and citizenship entitlements for children (18)
- In 2011, the civil partners of IE citizens acquired the same opportunity to naturalise as married spouses
Dimension 2: Conditions
- Immigrants have to pass several demanding requirements in IE as in other countries
- Since 2011, applicants have benefited from clearer requirements, for example about good character and legal residence
- Becoming IE is one of the most expensive processes of any major destination country. For many, the total fee rises to 950€, higher than in AU, CA, NZ or US (only AT, CH, UK set higher fees). That’s the equivalent over 60% of a month’s income for the average non-EU citizen in IE
- IE does not impose a language or citizenship test, although to succeed that would require the right exemptions and enough free courses for all applicants (see DE, Nordics)
Dimension 3: Security of status
- Immigrants are still critically insecure about the process, as the Minister retains ‘absolute’ discretion to interpret the requirements and even reject those who meet them
- Only immigrants in CY, GR, LV, MT are so insecure
- IE is one of the few countries denying rejected applicants the right to a reasoned decision and appeal (guaranteed in 31 MIPEX countries)
Dimension 4: Dual nationality
- IE, like most English-speaking and Western European countries, embraces dual nationality for immigrants and their children born in the country
Hearing evidence of long delays, incomplete information and unequal treatment, the Minister for Justice streamlined and accelerated procedures starting in 2011. Tens of thousands have now attended citizenship ceremonies, which welcome new citizens and underscore the importance of citizenship.
How many immigrants are becoming citizens?
The number of new IE citizens increased dramatically with the new practices, from around 4,000 per year from 2003-2009 to around 11,000 in 2011, 25,000 in 2012 and 28,000 in 2013. Backlogs have been cleared and processing times brought down from 26 months on average to six months for most.
What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?
- Newcomers becoming eligible for naturalisation
- Most from less developed countries and thus likely to naturalise
- Most from countries allowing dual nationality
How often do immigrants become citizens?
IE's long and discretionary procedure was the major reason for its below-average naturalisation rates up until the 2011 announcement. Within a year of that change, IE boasted the highest naturalisation rate for non-EU citizen men and women in Europe (almost 15 naturalised in 2012 for every 100 non-EU residents). The work is not over in IE, as many eligible immigrants have yet to apply. Estimates from 2011/2 suggest that only one in four non-EU-born adults have become IE citizens. This is a relatively low level in Europe, even among new countries of immigration. Compared to other countries, IE's rates are slightly lower on average for elderly non-EU citizens over 65 and for nationals of certain refugee-producing countries.
IE's anti-discrimination protections and equality body are helping potential victims take the 1st step towards justice, though mechanisms could be stronger to enforce the law and equality in practice
Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?
2.8% of all people in IE felt that they had been recently discriminated against or harassed based on their ethnic origin (2%) and/or religion/beliefs (1%), according to the latest EU-wide comparable data from 2012.
Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?
As in most countries, integration improves when government and equality bodies work to guarantee equal opportunities in practice. IE's rather strong anti-discrimination protections in all areas of life are becoming standard, as countries implement EU law, leading to a lower ranking in IE (17th out of 38) Small improvements were made since 2007. The new Human Rights and Equality Commission has favourable powers but limited funding (equality cuts of 43% since 2008). IE’s definitions are now weaker than in 19 countries (e.g. ethnic profiling, multiple discrimination) and enforcement mechanisms are below 29 (e.g. NGO role, class actions, aid). These definitions, mechanisms and equality policies are generally stronger in other Northern European and English-speaking countries.
Dimension 1: Definitions
- Wide range of actors cannot discriminate against a person on the grounds of race, ethnicity, religion or nationality
- Victims have little-or-no options to fight discrimination based on multiple grounds or racial profiling (see CA, US, UK)
Dimension 2: Fields of application
- Everyone is generally protected against ethnic, racial, religious and nationality discrimination in all areas of life in IE and 15 other MIPEX countries (e.g. CA, UK, US)
- Since 2007, the prohibition against discrimination on all grounds was confirmed in social protection and advantages in IE as in a near-majority of countries.
Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms
- Enforcement mechanisms are only halfway favourable for potential victims to access justice
- Evidence can be provided through statistics, but not necessarily situation testing (13 other countries)
- Equality NGOs could have stronger legal standing to intervene on behalf of victims (16) lead class actions or actio popularis (21)
Dimension 4: Equality policies
- Since 2014, Human Rights and Equality Commission merges Equality Tribunal and Human Rights Commission in order to strengthen protections, following the trend towards single bodies (e.g. FI, FR, NL, SE, UK)
- Government makes fewer concrete commitments to equality than in other countries; National Action Plan against Racism 2005-2008 and NCCRI replaced with work of Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration
- Residents in CA, NO, SE, UK, US benefit from public duties to promote equality and state-run information campaigns and dialogue in around a dozen countries
How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?
The number of discrimination complaints to equality bodies is the one available indicator of how often people report discrimination in different countries, given that other types of discrimination cases are rarely recorded by police and justice systems across Europe. In IE, discrimination cases have been recorded by the Equality Tribunal by ground and field, but not by civil courts. In 2012, the Equality Authority was contacted 337 times about ethnic discrimination and 43 times about religious discrimination, while the Equality Tribunal received 157 complaints about ethnic discrimination and 3 about religious discrimination. The decline in budgets for equality bodies has been accompanied by a decline in number of applications considered or granted.
What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases
- 45% of IE public know their rights as discrimination victims, though lower levels of rights awareness among immigrants (EU-MIDIS)
- Most not naturalised and relatively recent arrivals, thus less likely to report discrimination
How many complaints were made last year for every person who said they experienced racial/ethnic and religious discrimination?
Few complaints are made compared to the large number of people reportly experiencing incidents of racial/ethnic or religious discrimination. Complaints seem to be more common in the countries with stronger anti-discrimination laws and bodies, such as IE; 1 potential victims contacts the Equality Authority/Tribunal for approximately every 200 people experiencing ethnic or religious discrimination. Non-reporting is still the norm in European countries, though IE equality bodies and NGOs are making an effort to help victims take the 1st step in the long path to justice.
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