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Sunday 18 November 2018

Immigrants 'more likely' to work and pay tax than average Irish person - Varadkar

Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)
Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said that immigrants are “more likely” to be working and paying tax than the average Irish person.

Speaking in the Dáil Mr Varadkar also said that immigrants are holding up our public services, as he defended Ireland’s record of integration to date.

The Fine Gael leader said that one in six people in Ireland were not born here and that compared to countries such as Britain and France migration integration has been better here.

“In addition, migrants are very well integrated into our labour market and are, in fact, more likely to be working than the average Irish person and more likely to be paying tax,” he said.

“In many areas, in particular health, they are really holding up our public services as well as helping to bring investment from large companies into Ireland, whether from Facebook or Google or others.”

He noted that there is ongoing work in relation to integrating immigrants - who move to Ireland from all over the world - but said that “we have done pretty well relative to other states”.

The Taoiseach was responding to a question from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who claimed Ireland’s management of migration has been “fairly disastrous”.

“One only needs to look to the system of direct provision to have proof positive that, far from managing migration, in fact, we are failing spectacularly in that regard,” she said.

She questioned whether the Taoiseach used the recent summit in Salzburg to challenge Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz on his views on immigration.

Mr Varadkar said he appreciated that there are “plenty of issues and shortcomings and that direct provision may be one of those.

He also said he was proud that anti-immigration politics did not emerge here during the recession.

“I am pleased and proud of the Irish people that during our deep recession when there was very high unemployment and living standards were falling, people did not turn to anti-immigration or racist politics in the way they have in other countries when times have been tough,” he said.

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