Friday, September 5, 2008

66% want immigration clampdown - poll

The Irish Examiner leads today with a poll on immigration, which it says shows conflicting atttitudes by the Irish people to immigration and integration. The poll, by Amarach Research,was conducted last week among a sample of 1,000 adults in the Republic. The poll finds that 66% believe we need tighter controls on immigration. Despite the call for a clampdown, 54% believe the country’s decade-long experience of mass migration has been good for the republic, with one in three saying it has had a negative impact. Almost six in 10 people, 59%, think the Government is not doing enough to integrate the new Irish, while 72% are worried about the impact immigration is having on the health service. A further 65% expressed similar concerns regarding education. 38% of respondents believe a future taoiseach or president of the republic will emerge from the descendents of immigrants, with 33% disagreeing. according to the survey of 1,000 people, conducted by Amárach Research. In it's editorial entitled "Integration of immigrants - A positive experience", the Examiner argues that "This period of immigration coincided with a period of unprecedented wealth, opportunity and nearly full employment. As everyone knows, those circumstances no longer apply and as unemployment levels rise there is a potential for tension. Our attitude towards immigrants may be about to face a sterner test than before.". The poll also shows a significant class, gender and age divide on the issue. Dubliners, higher earners and the middle-aged were more likely to suggest immigrants were integrated. 42 per cent were "a little worried" about immigration's effect on the education system compared to 35 per cent being "not at all worried", and 23 per cent "extremely worried". Asked about the health service, 39 per cent said they were"a little worried", 28 per cent not worried and 33 per cent "extremely worried". 48% of females said immigration was a good thing and 37 per cent a bad thing, with 58 per cent of men saying it is a good thing, and 30 per cent a bad thing. Women are less positive about the effect of immigration than men. Coincidentally, the Irish Examiner quotes more of the artificial hysteria of Fianna Fáil in condemning the proposals of FG Enterprise Spokesman and Dublin West TD that the State should fund the return of foreign-nationals to their home countries because of the economic recession. While the proposal was condemned by Thomas Byrne (FF) TD, who called it a "new low" and called for it to be withdrawn, it marks the beginning of what I hope will be a trend which, together with recent proposals on reform of the public-sector will make FG a viable alternative to a FF-led govt. Being more in touch with public-opinion on issues like this is an important part of being taken seriously as a viable alternative-govt party. Varadkar should stand his ground, and FG should back him up. It is not a racist proposal, but rather one that recognises that charity begins at home, and that a recession is not the right time to be exacerbating the difficulties Irish people face in finding work. For those of us - myself included - who oppose racism, it is recognised that the current free-for-all of unregulated mass-immigration are in fact risking strengthening it. Let us oppose racism through tighter controls, so as to avoid the circumstances such as job displacement which fuel it.

Sadly, the early signs point to the Establishment continuing to demonise those who attempt to quite legitimately debate the question of immigration-control and measures to protect the Irish labour-market in the context of skyrocketing unemployment - something that certainly calls into question the prospects for the survival of freedom of speech in this country. Integration Minister Conor Lenihan has accused Fine Gael TDs of attempting to create a “climate of resentment” against people who have come to Ireland to work.Mr Lenihan’s comments follow a call by Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar for the Government to consider paying immigrant workers a lump sum payment of up to six months' worth of unemployment benefit if they agree to return home. “Leo Varadkar’s comments about migrants before a Dáil Committee are designed to create a climate of resentment against people who have come to Ireland to work,” Mr Lenihan said. He said statements had been issued by Fine Gael deputies in recent months that were of “huge concern” to him and that were “inflammatory and aimed at boosting their own profile at the expense of often vulnerable immigrants”. “The comments by Deputy Varadkar as a member of the Opposition front bench mark a new low in Irish politics and all the more so given that it appears to be a co-ordinated effort on migrant issues by Fine Gael,” the Minister said. Labour TD Sean Sherlock said Mr Varadkar's remarks were "nothing short of outrageous" and an "unwelcome lurch towards the far right" by Fine Gael. "Immigration has increased the population of Ireland, and in so doing, has increased demand for goods and services in this country, contributing in no small way to generating the economic prosperity we enjoyed in recent years," he said. Mr Varadkar asked the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment whether there was an opportunity to give three to six months' unemployment benefit to unemployed foreign nationals to encourage them to return to their own countries. In Spain, unemployed foreign nationals from 20 countries have been offered €18,000 to go home on condition they do not come back for three years. The Fine Gael TD’s remarks were described during the meeting as "very, very dangerous" by Fianna Fáil Meath TD Thomas Byrne, who said "voluntary repatriation is a new low by Fine Gael". Later, Mr Byrne said: "This comes in the dishonourable tradition of the British National Party. They are the only other party supporting voluntary repatriation." The number of such workers in Ireland is now 16 per cent of the total on the Live Register - exactly proportional to the numbers in the workforce.

So yet again, the opportunity to have a rational debate on the challenges of immigration is cast aside in favour of the failed mantra of "multiculturalism" and the portrayal of all foreign-nationals as victims (especially through their being termed "vulnerable") by the windbags of Leinster House. It is a sad situation that we are being denied a debate on the biggest societal change on this island for 400 years. Most of us are opposed to racism, and certainly that includes myself. But surely experience in other parts of Western Europe underlines the fact that racism tends to increase in a context where debate on the issue is closed down via self-censorship and the blind adherance to failed mantras and political-correctness. For example, I bring your attention to recent race-riots and gang warfare in the UK. Multiculturalism's defenders claim it will create a progressive society where the tolerance of cultural identity provides equality and opportunity for all. Positive discrimination within public institutions is supposed to engineer a change in attitudes, and result in a society comfortable with diversity. But in the UK, these practices have become divisive, creating animosity within the indigenous population. Former Tory politician, Matthew Parris of The Times has questioned the wisdom of culturally divided communities living side by side, and the natural inequalities and conflict this will naturally create. Divided ethnic communities where economic prosperity is in short supply, are always going to compete for wealth, and this competition will on occasion spill over into violence. The evidence from the UK disproves the Left's contention that multiculturalism reduces racism. Socially liberal multiculturalists will argue that inherent racism in society limits the opportunities of ethnic minorities, but surely multiculturalism “ by encouraging cultural division“ cements such attitudes. So if we are to make immigration a success it is right we should question the ethos of multiculturalism, which it could be argued is failing to create equality and social harmony. Many ethnic minority children are being failed by multiculturalism which undermines the social cohesion and productivity. Why are Indian children 20% more likely to succeed at school than Pakistani or Black children? Why is such inequality so evident after decades of the multicultural experiment? Holding up the richness and value of a culture is all well and good, but not when it's at the cost of unity and collective prosperity. Dianne Ravitch, the conservative US scholar and author, has argued that the celebration of Multiculturalism masks liberal/intellectual hostility towards the mainstream. While it took 50 years for the ethnic-minority populations of the UK and Germany to reach what I call critical-mass (10%+), it has happened in Ireland in a mere 10 years. In that context, it is important for the political-elites to wake up and recognise that if we are not to repeat the mistakes of previous countries of mass-immigration with respect to the labour market, multiculturalism, integration and unsustainable pressure on public-services, we must act now, rather than marching blindly into the abyss seen in France and the UK in the streets of Paris and Brixton. Those of us who oppose racism must ensure that our immigration policy reflects the needs of the Irish people and economy - not the leftist ideology that seeks to replace nations with "citizens of the world", or the fatcats for whom anti-racism is merely a flag of convenience behind which to hide an agenda that is actually racist because it exploits cheap foreign labour through a race to the bottom in pay and conditions, undermining both workers' rights and race-relations. We have hard realities we have to face, and the longer it takes for us to do so, the greater the risk that we repeat the mistakes of history.

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