More Than Four Percent Of The Workforce In Ireland Are From Poland.
Now there are about 243,000, more than eight percent of the total workforce, with the largest group, about 120,000, from Poland. Half of the 92,000 new jobs created in Ireland in 2005 were filled by immigrants.
Some 80,000 East European workers have come to Ireland since May Day 2004, when the EU went from 15 to 25 Members. This is about 4 percent of the existing Irish workforce and is not that far short of the 90,000 moving to the UK, even though the UK population is 15 times that of Ireland. This is because of the booming Irish labour market, where the official unemployment rate is 4%. That contrasts with Poland's rate of 20%.
After Poland joined the European Union in 2004, Ireland was one of just three existing EU members to open its borders and welcome Polish workers as relatively cheap but highly qualified labour (the others being the UK and Sweden). Ireland quickly became the major destination for young Poles seeking work outside their country. According to the 2006 Census of Ireland, there are 63,276 Poles living in Ireland constituting the second largest ethnic minority after the British. Many people, especially people of Polish origin, dispute this figure, claiming that the number may be as high as 180,000. As they are EU citizens they are not obliged to declare their presence in Ireland so it is impossible for the civil authorities to produce accurate statistics.
It should be noted there is also a large number of Poles working in Northern Ireland and they are free to cross the border at will. It is possible that many live in Northern Ireland but work in the Republic also with cheap flights it is now feasible for better paid specialist workers, such has doctors, to return home to Poland every weekend.
Any self respecting medium-sized Irish town has at least one Polish shop. There are many Polish newspapers and magazines being published in Dublin. Low cost airlines offer scheduled flights on up to 32 routes between Ireland and Poland, proving that there is a constant flow of people between the two countries.
To date the influx of Poles and others to Ireland has been a very positive experience but there is also a dark side in that many have been unfairly exploited by immoral employers. Unfortunately badly advised people come to Ireland with no savings and no English and for them the struggle to find work can bring unbearable strain. The Homeless Agency has reported a significant increase in the number of central Europeans availing of its service and they believe that up to 700 Poles may be availing their services for homeless.