Since the onset of the recession, it became clear that the state’s integration policies and all the talk about ‘cultural diversity’, ‘interculturalism’ and so on were becoming redundant. What started with draconian cuts in the integration and antiracism sector and the demise of bodies such as the NCCRI very quickly turned into complete silence on the subjects of immigration, integration, and interculturalism, and culminated with the axing of many community development projects. The new Minister for Integration was nowhere to be seen, and even though the government was boasting that Ireland was ‘getting it right’ by avoiding the pitfalls of both (French) assimilationism and (British) multiculturalism, it became clear that in the recession the state was not interested in migrants, no longer seen as the engine of Ireland’s economic boom.
In recent days the media reported somewhat triumphantly that ‘foreign nationals’ were going home. Using PPS statistics, a downward trend was reported across the workforce. According to December 2009 CSO figures, ‘57,112 of the 117,983 foreign nationals who received PPSNs in 2004 were still either working or claiming welfare in 2008’. In the absence of statistics for those who actually left Ireland, it was less clear ‘what happened to the rest, but it is very likely that they left the Republic’. Read more