Regional differences in immigration integration uncovered in Maynooth University report

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - 09:45

Marked regional differences in how immigrants are integrating in Ireland have been uncovered in a new report by academics at the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute (MUSSI).
The report, ‘Immigrant integration and settlement services in Ireland,’ by Professor Mary Gilmartin and Dr Jennifer Dagg, finds significant differences in immigrant integration based on where people live, particularly in relation to the Border region and Dublin.
Immigrants living in the Border regions are considerably more likely to be at risk of poverty, and living with deprivation or in consistent poverty.
The age profile of immigrants in the Border region is older than that of the Dublin region.

People living in the Border region are far more likely to be categorised as skilled manual, semi-skilled or unskilled than those living in Dublin.
There are clear differences in the levels of educational attainment.  The difference is most marked among men. Just 5.2 percent of the male population of the Border region has a postgraduate qualification, compared to 8.2 percent of the female population in that region, and compared to 14.3 percent of males in the Dublin region.
Those living in the Border region were less likely to say they spoke English well or very well (77.9%) compared to 85.6% in the Dublin region, based on Census 2016 data.
Pointing to those regional variations, Professor May Gilmartin said: “Where people live in Ireland, and their nationality, affects their experiences of integration. While many immigrants are settling in well to Irish society, there remain areas of concern, especially in relation to employment, housing and levels of income.”
She continued: “The government has stated that we need to have a long-term vision of Ireland as a society where migrants play an active role in communities, workplaces and politics. This report highlights the barriers to migrants playing an active role, and ways in which those barriers might be lifted.” 
The report states: “The striking difference between the Dublin and Border regions overall matters in terms of integration, because of the impact of place of residence on migrant integration more broadly.”
However, the regional disparities are described as nuanced in housing:  While non-Irish nationals are more likely to rent from a private landlord than their Irish neighbours in both the Border and Dublin regions, non-Irish nationals in the Border region have higher rates of home ownership, higher rates of renting from local authorities, and lower rates of private renting than non-Irish nationals in the Dublin region.
Settlement services for immigrants aimed at helping to improve integration are limited, and are not always available where they are most needed, according to the report.
The funding structure for settlement services is described as “often short-term and competitive” and this, “together with a reliance on the non-governmental sector for the provision of services means that it is difficult to plan or, at times, offer crucial services.”
The report recommends that “if immigrant integration outcomes are to improve, then a more coherent, coordinated and longer-term approach to effective integration processes, in the form of appropriately-targeted settlement services, is required.”
It concludes: “As levels of immigration to Ireland continue to increase, this is a pressing issue both for new immigrants, for more established immigrants, and for the children of recent immigrants.”

The report can be viewed in full here - report
The report, Mapping processes of integration and settlement in contemporary Ireland,’ was funded by the Irish Research Council under its Research for Policy and Society Scheme 2016.