Brexit: 4.1% of NI residents born outside UK or Republic

Ongoing migration crisis imposing serious pressure on EU member states

According to the 2011 Northern Ireland census, approximately 4.5 per cent of Northern Ireland residents, ie 81,314 persons, were born outside of the UK or the Republic of Ireland.

Migrants residing in Northern Ireland come predominantly from countries in Eastern Europe, including Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovakia. Poles are the largest category of migrants, equivalent to 24.2 per cent of the population born outside the UK and the Republic, or 1.1 per cent of the total population of Northern Ireland. Migrants also come from the US, Canada, China, Germany, India and the Philippines.

The ongoing refugee crisis is imposing serious pressures on the EU and its member states, some of which are bearing disproportionate burdens in terms of refugee numbers. Being on the Western periphery of Europe, the UK and Ireland are less directly affected by inward flows of migrants from Syria and elsewhere. The intensity of the crisis, however, has prompted an EU response.

In September 2015, the EU agreed to relocate 66,000 refugees in Italy and Greece to other parts of the EU. Both Ireland and the UK – under the terms of the EU’s treaty – have an opt-out with the possibility to participate should they so choose. Ireland chose to opt in, but the UK did not participate.

Instead, Prime Minister David Cameron, agreed that the UK would accept 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years. The first group of 51 Syrian refugees arrived in Northern Ireland as part of the UK’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme in December 2015.