ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin has hit out at those who, he says, stoke up public fear on immigration by suggesting the "floodgates" are about to open to criminals, terrorists and the unemployable.
Irish society must be alert to the first signs of racism and xenophobia, warned the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin.
Ahead of May's European elections, Dr Martin said immigration would be a key issue as "people are fearful about the loss of their jobs and the loss of national identity".
Addressing a conference on migration organised by the Catholic Bishops Councils for Immigrants and Emigrants, the senior cleric said Ireland was fortunate never to have had a strong anti-European or anti-immigrant political current but he warned against complacency.
"We have to be very careful to see where there is latent and hidden discrimination against immigrants," he said, adding that the country's asylum procedures should be looked at.
"Our processes for recognition of asylum are too long and restrictive," the archbishop said.
Dr Martin also warned against Ireland's 'green card' culture as skilled workers were left "hanging around in the system".
Fr Alan Hilliard, a member of the board of the Irish Bishops' Council for Emigrants, backed Archbishop Martin's comments on Ireland's "ambivalent 'green card' immigration culture", saying: "For certain higher executives visas are easier to come by than for the ordinary worker who is left more vulnerable."