Ireland among least family-friendly for migrants, survey shows

State performs well in political participation for migrants but poor in work and education

Ireland is behind the rest of Europe in providing family rights, access to work and education for migrants, according to an international index.

The Migrant Integration Policy Index includes all 28 EU countries as well as Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey and the US.

Ireland ranks 19th out of 38 overall, scoring 52 per cent in eight policy areas including labour market mobility, family reunion, health, education, political participation, access to nationality, permanent residence and anti-discrimination.

The State’s best performance is in political participation where it scores 73 per cent, ranking it sixth of the 38 countries. It also performs well on anti-discrimination at 66 per cent, coming 17th out of the 38 states, and ranks 10th in health with a 58 per cent score.


However, Ireland’s family reunion policies are some of the least family-friendly in the developed world, with the third lowest score in the index (40 per cent) in a state where 17 per cent of the population are foreign-born.

“The small number of non-EU residents in Ireland who are separated from their family almost never reunite with them in Ireland, far below the levels in all other EU countries,” the index authors state.

The index also showed that 30 per cent of working age migrants from outside the EU were not in work, education, training or schools putting Ireland in 24th place with a 30 per cent score.

High costs

The authors say: “Ireland has some of the most discretionary family reunion, residence and citizenship policies in the developed world, meaning that non-EU citizens are less likely to reunite with their family, become long-term residents or, until recently, become citizens in Ireland than in nearly all other European countries”.

Chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland Brian Killoran said the index showed clearly "there are many shortfalls which successive government s have not addressed to ensure proper integration of migrants in every aspect of Irish life".

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is a parliamentary correspondent with The Irish Times