With growing concerns over job losses and the credit crunch starting to bite, Ireland's migrant workers are feeling the strain - not just in their pockets, but in their relationship with the adopted homeland.
With a drop of close to 25 per cent in Ireland's once booming construction industry, fears are also rising that concerns over job losses, the credit crunch and the still high cost of living will produce an unprecedented wave of racism and xenophobia. The Polish community in Ireland, which is estimated at around 230,000, is experiencing the largest exodus of workers back either to their homeland or other parts of the EU in search of work.
Ireland has experienced one of the fastest rates of immigration in history. In less than a decade its non-indigenous population has shot up from just under 1 per cent to 12 per cent. There are officially now half a million non-Irish living in a state of four and a half million.
Up to 27 per cent of migrants living in the Republic today come from Britain. Estimates put the non-Irish population at about 12 per cent, but some academics in Dublin argue it could be as high as 18 per cent.