Friday, August 29, 2008

Europol: Ireland a haven for illegal immigrants

IRELAND is a “highly attractive” destination for illegal immigrants and criminal gangs smuggling them in, according to an EU security report.

The report also said Irish criminal gangs were bypassing international drug traffickers in Europe and arranging deals in “source” countries.

“The UK and Ireland are highly attractive destinations for illegal immigrants and organised crime (OC) groups who facilitate illegal immigration,” said the EU Organised Crime Threat Assessment 2008, conducted by Europol.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cowen admits second Lisbon referendum must be an option

THE Taoiseach conceded yesterday that the Government would have to consider the prospect of a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Brian Cowen refused to rule out the option when he said that his colleagues would consider the need for another referendum in "due course".

But he also said more time was needed to analyse what had happened on June 12 when the public voted 'No'.

Mr Cowen's comments follow hot on the heels of those of European Affairs Minister of State Dick Roche, who said he felt a second referendum would ultimately be needed to solve the current impasse.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Irish population to hit 6.7m by 2060

Ireland will continue to experience one of the strongest population growths in Europe over the next 50 years.

Figures released by the EU Statistics Office today estimate that Ireland's population will have reached 6.7m by 2060.

However according to the Eurostat figures, Baltic states and some eastern European countries will experience a fall in population.

The 'Baby Boomers' of the 1960s will be responsible for the swell in the number of elderly living in the EU over the next five decades.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Minister admits we need new Lisbon Referendum

EUROPEAN Affairs Minister Dick Roche raised the prospect of a second Lisbon Treaty referendum last night, saying he believes it is "the appropriate response" to the country's continuing political crisis.

Mr Roche's controversial comments, in an interview with the Irish Independent, came as the Catholic Primate of All Ireland yesterday voiced fears that some Christians had voted against the treaty because the EU was becoming ever more secular in its outlook.

Mr Roche said: "My personal view is that a referendum is the appropriate response to the position we are in. This is very much a personal view at this stage."

He added: "If we want to retain our position as a constructive EU member state, we cannot simply sit on our hands, as some would have us do, and keep saying that 'No' means 'No'."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Irish asylum case exposes major flaw in EU system

A MAJOR flaw in legislation could allow would-be refugees to repeatedly apply for asylum in a succession of different European Union countries.

The loophole, which is of potential benefit to hundreds of asylum seekers, allows a person to be readmitted to the Irish asylum system if they evade what's known as a "transfer order".

Under current arrangements, a person's asylum claim must be heard in the EU country where they first claim asylum. However, a case currently being dealt with by the Department of Justice has exposed a major failing in the legislation, one which could potentially delay the deportation process for years.

The person involved – who is believed to be an African national – arrived in Ireland in April of 2006 and applied for asylum here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ireland to take in Tanzanian refugees

Refugees from Tanzania are to be resettled in Ireland under a UN program, it emerged today.

Minister for Integration Conor Lenihan and officials are to travel to the West African country next month to finalise details.

The Tanzania refugees, who are expected to arrive in Ireland in coming months, will be resettled in a town selected by the Office of Integration after detailed local consultation.

The families will then take part in an orientation programme to help them to adjust to Irish life.

Children will be given basic English and mathematics courses while the adults will learn practical tasks such as cooking, household budgeting and applying for a driving licence or a library card.

Senator wants new migrants to sit exam in English

THE row over immigrants' language skills deepened last night after a Fine Gael senator called for a mandatory English test for all foreigners entering the country.

It comes just two days after controversial remarks by her party colleague, Fine Gael frontbencher Brian Hayes, calling for the "segregation" of immigrant children in secondary schools until they can speak English.

Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames last night said immigrants who wanted to work in the country should have to pass an English language test to improve the process of integration.

"We really need to let foreign nationals know that English is a requirement to live here. It is absolutely ridiculous that some people are here for years without an English competency," she told the Irish Independent.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Net immigration slows, but they're still coming

The number of immigrants to the State fell by some 25,700 (23.5 per cent) in the year to April this year, with immigration from the newest EU member states showing the greatest decline, new Central Statistics Office figures show.

The lastest population and migration estimates released today also reveal the number of emigrants was up slightly on the previous year to 45,300. The total number of immigrants fell to 83,800 from 109,500 in the year to the end of April a year earlier.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Teachers back call to segregate immigrants

TEACHERS last night gave a guarded backing to calls for immigrant children who cannot speak English properly to be "segregated" in our classrooms.

This followed a Fine Gael call yesterday for the Government to separate immigrant children with poor language skills from the rest of their classmates.

The party’s education spokesman, Brian Hayes, said children should not be put into a mainstream class until they have a competence for it.

He added: “And if that requires segregation, well then we have got to segregate the child in the best interests of that child.”

He said he was also aware that many parents were frustrated at the effect the lack of segregation was having on the education of their Englishspeaking children.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Surge in non-nationals buying first home here

ALMOST one in 20 first-time buyer houses are being snapped up by Africans, according to figures to be published later this month.

The figures, from the Irish Mortgage Corporation, show that while many Irish-born first-time buyers have been sitting on the property fence this year, the number of properties being bought by non-nationals has surged.

Overall, non-nationals are snapping up one in four first-time buyer houses, compared to about one in 10 three years ago.

Asian first-time buyers have the biggest taste for Irish property. About one in 14 first-time buyer houses are snapped up by Asians, with most of these coming from India, the Philippines, Pakistan and China.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fewer than 20 census avoiders fined

Fewer than 20 people have been prosecuted for failing to complete the 2006 census form despite warnings of a zero-tolerance approach for non-compliance and hefty fines for offenders.

Under the Statistics Act 1993 it is an offence to not take part in a census of population with offenders liable to be summoned to appear before a District Court judge.

Prior to the 2006 census, there was a sustained media campaign to encourage full participation and warnings that non-compliance could result in fines of up to €25,000. However a Central Statistics Office (CSO) spokesman has revealed that they only sought to prosecute people in "extreme circumstances" with nobody receiving fines anywhere near the maximum €25,000.

While 2006's census recorded the country's highest population in 150 years of 4.1 million, over 43,000 respondents failed to state their country of nationality. That amounts to more than one per cent of respondents.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reports of racial discrimination up 106% in 2007

Complaints to the Equality Tribunal on grounds of racial discrimination increased by 106 per cent last year, the body’s annual report revealed today.

There was a 44 per cent increase overall in employment equality claims in 2007 and an 11 per cent increase in equal status claims.

Employment-related claims now account for a total of four-fifths of the tribunal’s new business.

Amounts totalling €461,816 (excluding equal pay and pay arrears etc.) were awarded in compensation where discrimination was found. The average award was €14,431 compared to €10,113 in 2006.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Landlords evicting tenants to raise rent

The credit crunch has lead to a surge in illegal evictions for tenants in the rental market.

According the Threshold National Housing Organisation, tenants struggling to make payments were being forced to leave their homes by unscrupulous landlords.

The downturn in the economy has meant an increase in evictions by landlords who are finding it difficult to meet rising mortgage costs.

Landlords across the country are attempting to ditch current tenants and move in new tenants paying higher rent, Threshold claimed this week.

Monday, August 11, 2008

'United Nations' of claimants costing State €150m

THE State is spending around €150m a year hosting a "United Nations" of nationalities in rented properties, according to new figures.

People from 161 different countries, ranging from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, are in receipt of the free rental allowance.

They account for 39pc of the 63,000 people on the means-tested scheme, which costs a total of €390m annually and is generally open only to those who are unemployed.

Although 61pc of people on the scheme are Irish, the numbers of immigrants on rent allowance has been increasing steadily.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Exposed: The myth of Ireland's liberal asylum policy

NIGERIAN people arriving in Ireland have practically no chance of being granted asylum, according to figures obtained by the Sunday Tribune.

The figures, which also indicate that asylum applications from Chinese people are almost always refused, demolish claims by anti-immigrant groups that Ireland has an open-door immigration policy. Fewer than 20 Nigerian nationals have been recognised as refugees in the past two years, despite more than 1,500 applications, the figures show.

For an individual to be granted asylum in Ireland, they must meet very strict criteria, and their best chance of success appears to come if their country is at war.

Around 44% of Iraqis have been granted asylum over the past two years, making them the most successful nationality in terms of applications.

Sudanese nationals also have a high chance of success, with around 40% of applications accepted by immigration authorities.

Of 215 asylum applications received from would-be refugees from Sudan, 84 were granted, many of them from people fleeing civil war in the Darfur region.

By comparison, Nigerians have a less than 0.01% chance of being granted refugee status in Ireland, no matter what their personal circumstances.

Garda spent €3 million on interpreters last year

The Garda Sioch├ína spent almost €3 million on interpreters last year, as the number of immigrants requiring translators continued to grow.

The Garda deals with over 200 languages and dialects on a regular basis. Between 30 and 40 companies provided interpretation services to the Garda last year, a spokesman said.

The HSE spent €750,000 on interpreting in 2007.It has a list of preferred providers that it issues to hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

The Courts Service has a contract with Lionbridge, a multinational company with an office in Dublin. The Courts Service spent more than €2 million on interpreting last year, and expects to spend €2.5 million this year.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Nicolas Sarkozy: Britain and Ireland should share one EU Commission seat

Nicolas Sarkozy is pushing the idea that Britain and Ireland, countries of "similar culture and language circle", should share one seat in the European Commission in order to cut the size of the Brussels executive.

The president of France, the current holder of the European Union's rotating presidency, has floated the scheme as a way of cutting the number of Commissioners, currently at 27, one for each member state.

"Countries which share a common cultural heritage, such as Germany and Austria, Great Britain and Ireland or the Benelux countries could share a common Commissioner," German newspaper Die Welt said, quoting high-level French sources.
But the scheme has not been well received.

€238m saved in Welfare fraud clampdown

Welfare payments of almost €238m have been saved through anti-fraud and control measures in the first six months of this year, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin said today.

Following a review into social welfare fraud, it was found that some people claiming unemplyment benefit were in fact working; people who were claiming to be lone parents had gotten married; and medical evidence showed that some people claiming to be too ill to work could in fact work.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Poles will send home €2bn

POLISH workers here are expected to send more money home than ever this year despite the economic downturn, with some commentators believing it will top €2bn.

Last year, Poles sent €1.33bn home from Ireland, according to the Polish Central Bank, NBP. But the bank estimates the figure this year will reach €1.87bn -- despite anecdotal evidence that Eastern European workers are leaving Ireland because of a fall-off in jobs, especially in the construction sector.

However, the actual figure may be higher. Two-thirds of Poles in Ireland send money home, but just 46pc use a bank account to do so. Others use specialist transfer firms such as Western union, or take it home on flights themselves.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

FG Councillor calls for upskilling of Irish workforce

Cllr. Pat Whelan has called for the up-skilling of Irish workers after it emerged this week that 90% of new jobs created in the last 12 months were being filled by foreign nationals.

“This information from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) bucks the widely held belief, that many migrant workers will leave Ireland for other EU countries as our economy slows down, and that a large proportion of new jobs being created in Ireland will be taken up by the Irish workforce,” said Cllr. Whelan.

“The biggest share of new jobs are being created in high value sectors like financial and other business services, which grew by 26,300 in the year to the first quarter of 2008, and accounted for almost half (48.9%) of all jobs created. It had been assumed that Irish workers would take up most of these positions. But the CSO data indicates that foreign nationals will be recruited for a significant proportion of these new positions,” the Town Councillor continued.

“This trend needs to be fully researched by Government, as it could well be a warning about Ireland’s ability to attract foreign direct investment. There is no doubt that some of this increase in jobs uptake by migrant workers is due to their improving English language skills, leaving lower skilled jobs and moving up the value chain in line with their educational qualifications,” he said.

Financial mis-management 'costing HSE millions' - study

A government-commissioned audit has reportedly found that the HSE is wasting more than €20m a year through bad financial management.

Reports this morning say the study found that millions of euro is being lost because the health service's bank accounts are not earning interest, while the HSE is paying out around €2m a year in bank charges.

Hospital bed record 'a sick joke'

A CLAIM that only 10 extra beds have been provided in acute hospitals between 2005 and 2007 was made yesterday by the Fine Gael health spokesman, Dr James Reilly TD.

Describing the record of Minister for Health, Mary Harney, as "a sick joke" he said official figures showed that the number of inpatient beds had only increased from 12,093 in 2005 to 12,103 last year.

"This is what the Minister has to show after three full years and a €40 billion spend - three inpatient beds a year," said Dr Reilly.