Turning our immigrants into our ambassadors could reap dividends
Published 22/01/2014 | 02:30
Recently there has been lots of talk about who is buying Ireland. Foreign investors are buying Irish government debt and foreign funds are buying Irish prime property assets. Both of these developments are taken as barometers of how foreigners perceive this country.
I am more interested in "who is buying into Ireland" rather than who is buying Ireland. Who is buying into Ireland can be measured by immigration; who is coming here, from where and how has this changed over the past few years.
The figures for immigration are staggering. Fifteen years ago there were precious few immigrants here. Today, one-sixth of the population is foreign born. This is a massive social transformation by any measure. My preferred measure of immigration is air traffic and in particular, the Ryanair route planner. These days, people immigrate here by text. It's not a big deal really. Someone gets a text in Poland about a job or a gig and a few days later they are in a housing estate in Dublin, Waterford, Cork or Limerick bedding down, three to a room, about to start a new adventure.