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Irregular Migration | Ireland |

Ireland Background Immigration Migration Policy Irregular Migration Integration Issues Current Issues References

Irregular Migration

Emma Quinn

/ 2 Minuten zu lesen

Relatively little is known about the scale of irregular immigration to Ireland but given the fact that Ireland has just one land border, which separates Northern Ireland (UK) from the Republic of Ireland, illegal entry is likely to be less common than in other countries.

Recent policy responses to irregular immigration have focused on students and migrant workers. Non-EEA students in Ireland may work without a work permit for up to 20 hours per week during term time and full time during holidays. There is a concern that this system is being abused in that students are working for longer than the permitted hours and some may not be studying at all. In 2004 restrictions were introduced designed to counteract bogus English language schools providing a front for illegal labour migration. Since then only students who are pursuing courses that are of at least one year's duration and which lead to a "recognised qualification" as approved by the Department of Education and Science may enter the Irish labour market. The issue has not been resolved fully and in the future it is likely that a work permit requirement will be placed on students who wish to work while studying.

Exploitation of migrant workers is an ongoing concern. During 2005 and 2006 in particular there were concerns that poorly paid migrant workers were displacing Irish workers. Two high-profile cases involving the companies GAMA and Irish Ferries provoked heated public debate and a resulting tightening of standards. A National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) has since been established and tasked with maintaining employment rights and labour standards throughout the labour market, with a particular concern for the rights of migrant workers. The Employment Permits Act 2006 made some improvements in this area in providing that employment permits are granted to the employee and not the employer, in addition the permit states certain rights and entitlements of the worker concerned. The Act prohibits retention by the employer of the employee's personal documents.

Official data on the scale of trafficking to Ireland does not exist however there have been a number of important recent developments in relation to this issue. In June 2008 the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act, 2008 was enacted. This was the first dedicated piece of anti-human trafficking legislation in the State since the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998. In addition a National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking was published in 2009.



  1. On 1 September 2009, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform published a set of proposals for reform of non-EEA student immigration and launched a public consultation process on the issue. While no immediate changes were announced at the time, it was noted that the concession should be the subject of further analysis in a separate review via an Interdepartmental Group on Student Immigration.

  2. See Quinn (2006) for a more detailed discussion of these disputes.

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