Lenihan welcomes migrant strategy of integration


MINISTER FOR Integration Conor Lenihan said yesterday Ireland cannot afford in reputational terms to pursue the same failed policies of the French and Germans in the area of immigration.

Speaking in Ennis at the launch of an integrated strategy for the co-ordination of services to immigrant communities in Co Clare 2009-2012, Mr Lenihan said “immigration can be a great source of societal stability, strength and benefit, not a source of instability”.

The Minister said the Government is pursuing a policy of integration, which he said is a mid-point between the two polarities of assimilation and multiculturalism.

Mr Lenihan said that the policy of assimilation resulted in riots in France, while multiculturalism pursued in other countries resulted in further isolation of immigrant communities. He said: “it is fair to say that France, Germany, Holland and the UK have not managed immigration very well and all of them have failed the immigration challenge”.

“No other country has experienced immigration in quite the same fashion as Ireland,” he said. “We have gone in the last 10 years from immigrants accounting for 0 per cent of our population to 12 per cent today.

“Immigration and integration are issues for the longterm in Ireland and for very good reason too: 12 per cent of our population is non-Irish; 16 per cent of our workforce is non-Irish; 10 per cent of our primary school population is non-Irish; 7 per cent of our secondary schools are non-Irish; and 20 per cent of our unemployed are non-Irish.”

Acknowledging incidences of racism he said: “We do have people who throw and hurl abuse at people who are of African or Islamic origin . . .”