‘Ireland’s approach to migration is not fit for purpose’ – Roundtable on Migrations in Our Common Home

Posted on Monday, 15 May 2023
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The central message from the Roundtable on Migrations in Our Common Home latest policy brief is that Ireland’s existing approach to international protection is not fit for purpose. It is time to move away from a for-profit model which maximises profit over conditions, to an integrated, not-for-profit model with Government working collaboratively with stakeholders within a clear set of national standards.

Migration, in or out, is neither temporary nor a one-off event. In a globalised society, we must plan for migration as part of demographic change. Proper demographic planning requires an understanding of the needs of all those who make up our society; the various contributions we each make; and the support needs we each may have over the course of our lives. Incorporating all types of migration into this process ensures that the varying needs of migrants are taken into account.

We need to understand migration better. There is a wide variety of reasons why people may want, or be forced, to migrate. For example, climate change displaces an estimated 21.6 million people, on average, every year and can indirectly increase the risks associated with violent conflict.

‘Business as Usual’ is not working to serve Ireland’s society in an equitable, efficient, or effective manner. We need to take a human-rights-based approach, where everyone in society has a right to access appropriate accommodation; decent services and infrastructure; the right to participate in society and to maintain an adequate income; and the right to feel safe. These rights must be afforded to all people, however, and for whatever reason, they might have arrived here.

Adequate planning for existing and future population needs would endeavour to ensure that existing communities have their needs met, and the additional resources required by an increase in the population of those communities has been considered.

Forecasting would not only provide an evidence-based estimate of the number of immigrants arriving, and overall net migration, but would facilitate proper planning of resources.

Introducing forecasting methodologies would also enable Ireland to move beyond the narrative of the number of migrants coming into or leaving the country and towards one that plans for the contributions of, and provision for, all people living here.

Integration and human must be a central focus of this process. Planning through forecasting for change must not be used to make entry to Ireland more difficult for migrants, but to ensure that their reception within the country is one that works for all. It is time for Government to actively pursue equal treatment and integration of all migrants to Ireland, whether they are entering as highly skilled workers, as students, as family members, or because of conflict or persecution in other countries.

Policy Recommendations

In its latest policy brief, the Roundtable on Migrations in Our Common Home makes the following recommendations:

Promptly combat mis- and dis-information by engaging in a publicity campaign to highlight the positive aspects of migration and integration and challenging racism, explicit or implicit, when confronted with it.

Enforce existing anti-discrimination legislation and expedite the passing of the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022, initiated in the Oireachtas in November 2022.

Convene a working group on Forecasting for Migration under the auspices of the Department of An Taoiseach with cross-sectoral membership, and Chaired by an independent, human rights expert and task that working group with developing a forecasting methodology within twelve months of first meeting.

Implement a Human Rights Based Approach for all Government policy, beginning with immigration policy, following the example of Scottish National Taskforce for Human Rights.