Policy On Immigration
Sir, - The conclusion you come to in your editorial (March 2nd) that the restrictive Government policy on immigration and asylum seekers appears unlikely to change in the short term, in spite of wide ranging criticisms, is a very sad one indeed.
What is even more depressing is that the restrictive immigration policy continues to prevail despite the recent loss of 1,100 new jobs resulting from the decision by the American company, ADC Telecommunications, to locate a major job-creating plant in Scotland rather than Ireland, because of labour shortages here. It was reported by The Examiner that the company opted to locate its £30m facility in Edinburgh, despite more attractive tax incentives here, for the simple reason that there are not enough technical staff available in this country.
Despite the intensity of the debate on immigration and asylum issues in the last 3 months, it appears that the crucial link between this country's future prosperity and the establishment of an immigration policy that attracts much-needed foreign workers has not been properly established in the public consciousness.
The dithering of the present Government in formulating and executing a liberal immigration policy for foreign workers only serves to postpone the inevitable, while far-right groups like the Immigration Control Platform continue their scare-mongering campaigns against present and future immigrants.
At present, the invaluable input of foreign doctors to the health service of this country is well recognised. Many of these doctors come from my home country, Nigeria, an English-speaking country which unfortunately is currently going through an economic recession. Consequently, there are thousands of very well-educated Nigerian professionals and graduates who would be willing to travel to work in Ireland, given the opportunity to do so under an appropriate immigration policy. It is generally recognised that the present work permit system is far too restrictive to attract the numbers of foreign workers that are needed.
Obviously, part of the problem is the prevailing unenthusiastic attitude to the few thousands of immigrants presently seeking asylum here. The Government continues to insist that the majority of the applicants for asylum are "economic migrants".
If that is so, now that foreign workers are required to keep the economy booming, certainly there is some merit in the institution of an immigration policy that allows Irish embassies abroad (for instance in Nigeria) to issue "work visas" to suitably skilled applicants. Surely, this would go a long way to resolving the present crisis that is being needlessly prolonged by the Government at Irish taxpayers' expense. - Yours, etc.,
Ayo Akande, Dooradoyle, Co Limerick.