Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Challenging issues of immigration and integration must be urgently addressed

Statement from Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
Labour Party, Dublin North Central
Wednesday, February 1st 2012

Labour Party TD for Dublin North Central Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has stated that immigration and integration in Irish society are issues which need to be urgently addressed if we are to avoid serious social strife in our future. Deputy Ó Ríordáin was speaking after facilitating a briefing for Oireachtas members regarding a survey into TDs attitudes to immigration from The Integration Centre.*

Deputy Ó Ríordáin stated: "The facts and figures which representatives from The Integration Centre presented to us today paint a very startling picture of public representatives attitudes toward immigration and integration in Irish society.
"For example, 6 in 10 TDs who took part in the survey said that they had encountered racism over the course of the last general election. This is one of the more worrying revelations from the study. Moreover, one third of TDs also stated that they believed speaking out in favour of immigrants would impact negatively on their electoral support.

"It is my belief that the Government must lead the charge now in overcoming these problems. For instance, the Department of Justice could introduce legislation to make racism an aggravating factor in sentencing. We could resource our city and county enterprise boards to target funds and supports to immigrant entrepreneurs and we could remove the many barriers that migrants have to overcome to enter the teaching profession. These are just a few cost neutral initiatives which the Government could undertake.

"However, I do not believe that this is the Government's problem alone in which to solve. Rather, this issue must be addressed across the broad spectrum of society. Local authorities, the voluntary and private sectors must work in tandem with the Government to ensure a more progressive framework of integration in Ireland in the future."

*Further information:
Last summer, the polling company Millward Brown Lansdowne was commissioned to carry out a survey on TD's attitudes to Immigration. The purpose of this survey was to ascertain TDs' opinions, attitudes and interactions with immigration and Immigrants.
Attempts were made to contact all 165 TDs, 74 participated in the survey, giving a success rate of 45%.

TDs were asked 28 questions. Examples include;
- Do you think that in future Irish elections immigration will become a more contentious issue?
- Do you think immigrants have an important role to play in the recovery of our economy?
- Did you encounter racist sentiments when you were canvassing in the recent general election?
- Ireland has committed to taking in 200 recognized refugees for resettlement in Ireland every year. At this present time, do you think this number is too many, not enough, or just about the right amount?
- Have you ever spoken on the record in the Dáil regarding immigrant's or refugee's rights?