Ireland should have a national day to celebrate the State's immigrant communities, Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond has said.
The 2016 census found that Ireland has one of the highest percentages of foreign-born nationals in the EU, at 810,000 people or some 17.3 per cent of all residents. The largest immigrant communities are from Poland, Britain and Lithuania, it found.
Mr Richmond said immigrants would soon account for one-fifth of all those living in the State. He said this was a dramatic turnaround from the time that Ireland used to be an emigrant country sending generations to live abroad.
Speaking in the Seanad, Mr Richmond said: “As a people with a tradition of migration, we in Ireland know what it is to be an immigrant in a new land in times of difficulty as well as prosperity.
"Initiatives like the citizenship ceremonies for people taking Irish citizenship have been a fantastic success. And we are making great strides to deepen our bonds with our diaspora community, who are well-represented in the Seanad by Senator Billy Lawless. But there is more we can do to celebrate our immigrant population," he said.
Officially, there are nearly 60,000 people from the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia living in Ireland. However, according to their respective ambassadors, who attended the annual Baltic Day celebrations in Dublin on Monday, that figure is closer to 110,000.