BREXIT teaches us that we need immigrants every bit as much as they need us

Some argue that Ireland’s immigration-fed cultural melting pot could dilute and erode Irish culture, while others contend that immigration could actually enhance and enrich it. With housing pressure and a sudden and the war in Ukraine leading to a dramatic influx of refugees, the question has never been more pertinent.

Firstly, it is important to note that Ireland has a rich history of immigration, with waves of people coming to the country from all over the world for centuries. This has resulted in a diverse and vibrant society, with people from different cultures, languages, and backgrounds living and working alongside each other. This diversity has been embraced by many in Ireland, and has led to the creation of a unique Irish identity that is inclusive and welcoming to all.

Research has shown that immigration can have many positive effects on society, including cultural enrichment, economic growth, and increased social cohesion. In a study conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in 2019, it was found that immigrants in Ireland make a significant contribution to the economy, with foreign-born workers accounting for almost one-third of all employment growth between 2016 and 2018. The study also found that immigrants were more likely to start their own businesses, contributing to the growth of the economy and the creation of new jobs.

In terms of cultural enrichment, research has shown that exposure to different cultures and traditions can lead to increased creativity and innovation. A study conducted by the University of Illinois in 2010 found that people who have exposure to different cultures are more likely to come up with creative solutions to problems than those who are not exposed to different cultures. This suggests that the diversity that immigration brings to Ireland could actually serve to enhance and strengthen Irish culture, rather than diminish it.

Furthermore, research has shown that immigration can lead to increased social cohesion and a sense of community. In a study conducted by the Migration Policy Institute in 2016, it was found that immigrants in Ireland were more likely to participate in community activities and volunteer work than the native-born population. This suggests that immigration can actually serve to bring people together and foster a sense of belonging and community, rather than creating divisions and tensions.

It is also worth noting that immigration is not a one-way street, and that Irish culture can also influence and shape the cultures of immigrants who come to the country. This is exemplified by the many Irish traditions and customs that have been adopted by people from all over the world, such as St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and Irish music and dance.

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