Ahern expects immigrant influx to decline

 

The economy has reached the point where it cannot accommodate the same influx of immigrants as over the past 10 years, according to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Stressing that the economy could not have prospered without the level of immigration of recent years, Mr Ahern said yesterday he had great doubts about our capacity to continue to move beyond the 10 per cent growth in immigration of the last decade.

"I am not saying you can't go to 11 . . . but you can't go in one decade from 2 per cent to 10 and in the next decade from 10 to 20," he said in an interview on The Last Wordwith Matt Cooper on Today FM. "The numbers that we will be able to take in over the next 10 years will not be able to match the numbers that came in in the last 10 years."

Mr Ahern said that if we did not have the immigrants that made up 10 per cent of the workforce today, we would not have been able to keep the economy strong. "We have to be fair to the immigrants that are here. If we hadn't got to that 10 per cent, the Irish economy wouldn't be growing at 5 per cent."

He added: "We have to be very careful there is not displacement of workers."

He predicted that the first thing that would happen in a downturn would be that immigrant numbers would fall.

"Very quickly they would realise it is not a good place to come."

Mr Ahern was highly critical of RTÉ for broadcasting its Future Shock: Property Crashprogramme last Monday, saying it was irresponsible and inaccurate and he "disagreed with almost everything in it".

On hospital consultants, Mr Ahern said they were the vested interest most responsible for stifling necessary reform of the health service.