Migration: an appreciation of the facts

Migration is not an infliction on society

Sir, – Michael Gilmartin (Letters, September 26th), in the context of democracy being at risk from the far right, writes of “the underlying problem – the enormous change being inflicted in Irish society by the pace of migration” and “the pace of change being inflicted on society”.

By all means, let’s have discussion about migration, but let us do so with a full appreciation of the facts. Migrants tend to be younger, therefore they tend to be of working age and seek work, contributing to income tax revenues. Also, because they tend to be young, they also tend to be less of a burden on the healthcare system. We are an ageing society: over the next two decades, the share of the population aged 65 and over is projected to rise from one in seven to one in five. We will need younger people to work and pay taxes to help fund our health, pension and welfare systems.

And talking about our healthcare system, where would that be without migrants? The doctors, nurses and other staff who keep the show on the road and who helped keep the system afloat during the pandemic. If we had to do without these people now that would amount to an adverse change being “inflicted” on Irish society.

What of the restaurant, pub and hotel industries? Where would they be without migrant labour? And are we to seriously believe we can build all the houses we need without migrants? These questions hold even more force in an economy of full employment.


And these are just the economic and systemic benefits of migration. Yes, there are challenges, but, on balance, Ireland is a far more interesting and richer place for the migration we have experienced.

If eating Italian food cooked by an Italian chef, if learning Brazilian jiu jitsu from a Brazilian black belt, if being served a beer by a Ukrainian who is fleeing a neo-imperialist war is “infliction”, then sign me up.

Finally, if we are going to talk of “inflicting” migration on Ireland, we would have to talk, and give licence to others to talk, of the “infliction” of generations of Irish migrants on societies around the globe.

We need migrants. As Irish migrants have done wherever they have settled, they contribute to their host country economically, socially and culturally. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 16.