An opinion poll in today’s Irish Times finds that 78% of Irish citizens want to re-introduce a permit system for migrant workers from the new EU member states, and a majority of the population thinks that enough immigration has taken place. The article can be found here. It strikes me that such opposition is deeply hypocritical for two reasons.
First, Ireland is now one of the richest member states of the European Union, its wealth thanks in no small part to the influence of EU funds, and now the population is in favour of limiting the opportunities for citizens that need the opportunities the EU offers.
Second, many thousands of Irish have emigrated over the past 2 centuries – many thousands to the the UK and US among other places. When the roles are reversed and people wish to come and work in Ireland, it seems that those memories count for relatively little.
Let’s just hope the Irish government does not cave in to these selfish sentiments.
Thanks for the comment…
I agree completely with the analysis – it’s just that most of Europe’s politicians would sooner not face up to the reality of the black economy and keep their voters happy by looking like they are ‘tough’ on these issues. Most of Europe’s countries have centre-right governments after all.
Further, I wonder how much of this is a city vs. rest of the country issue. London has benefitted enormously from workers from the new Member States, and I gain the impression that the same is more or less the case in Stockholm. I guess Dublin too. But what about parts of the provinces where the economy is less good?
It’s not that dissimilar to some of the arguments which led to a majority vote against the Treaty of Nice in the first Irish referendum in 2002. It highlights a continuing unease within Irish society with the rapid pace of change which that country has seen over the last twenty years, accelerating even faster in the last ten. Reimposing controls on A-8 workers will simply push them completely into the “black economy”, I’m afraid, rather than removing them from Ireland as a whole, rather like the Worker’s Registration Scheme in the UK (The Thoughts of BondBloke: The fate of all those Polish Plumbers)