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Increased Immigration (2:20) Excerpt from film "Mixed Blessings", July 2006
Ireland is one of three countries in the EU that welcomes immigrant workers from Eastern Europe.

Country: Ireland

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Guiding Questions
  1. Why are people immigrating to Ireland?

  2. What problems do immigrants like Anna face upon arrival in a new country?

  3. Describe patterns of immigration and emigration in Ireland's history. What changing global factors have enabled the recent boom in immigration to Ireland?
Background Essay
Historic patterns of emigration from Ireland have been reversed in recent years. An economic boom in technology fields and other sectors has made Ireland an attractive place to immigrate, especially for people from Eastern Europe looking for job opportunities. Tens of thousands of migrants enter each year, and are essential to the country's economic growth. In this clip, Polish sisters Donna and Anna discuss the benefits - and hardships - of leaving their home country for Ireland.

Modern Ireland is now one of the most prosperous nations in Europe, for several reasons: economic dependence on the UK has decreased, there is reverse immigration, and a global economy is expanding. Real estate prices are soaring, women are entering the workforce in record numbers, and droves of foreign workers, particularly from Eastern Europe, have come to Ireland hoping to find work. For once in its history, Ireland is prosperous, modern, and a country full of immigrants to the country, instead of emigrants away from it.

All this prosperity is not without its downside, however. As a result of the economic transformation, self-sufficient towns with strong community ties have been replaced by cities, with their share of urban problems. The increase of women in the workforce has also created a change in family structure - family size has decreased and there is a struggle to balance home and work responsibilities. Furthermore, the Catholic church is in jeopardy - gone are the days when the parish priest was revered and Catholic doctrine was central in both government policy and private life.

The city of Limerick, which is located on the River Shannon, is an example of the transformations happening in Ireland. Limerick was historically an agricultural area. Since the 1990s, Limerick's industries and its fortunes have turned - the city has prospered in an economic boom and many multinational companies such as Dell, Analog Devices, and Vistakon are now based in Limerick. These companies now employ thousands of people and contribute substantially to the Irish Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Some see this rapid economic development as a mixed blessing, because at the same time as Limerick becomes more prosperous, traditions and beliefs are also being threatened. People who fondly recall "the good old days" are concerned about the changes within their city and country.

This clip is taken from an episode of WIDE ANGLE called MIXED BLESSINGS. In this film, many aspects of Limerick's transformation are explored. These include economic development, increased immigration and decreased emigration, urbanization, agricultural problems, real estate bubbles, working women, and secularization.

The tradition of emigrating from Ireland has been reversed. Tens of thousands of migrants enter each year, and are essential to the country's economic growth.

When the 15 existing EU member countries were asked to admit Eastern European workers, Ireland was one of three that said 'yes.' It is estimated that over 100,000 Poles work in Ireland today.

Donna Turzynska is waiting for her sister Anna to arrive from Poland to start a new life. Although Donna has only been in Ireland for a year, she sounds like a real local.

I will try to pass her my knowledge about what I know about Ireland. I will try to, of course, help her as much as I can. She'll be looking for a job which will be in her profession which is riding horses. She was a show jumper, for a while so she's hoping actually to get something what she likes to do and something what she can do.

In Poland there's no opportunity for jobs at the moment. That's why she's looking for a job abroad. I just want to see her over there and give her a big hug and say, "Very welcome in Ireland!"

I left Poland because the situation of the Polish economy is very bad at the moment.

Unemployment is very high.
It's between 17 and 20 percent.
For young people there are no prospects.
It's difficult to raise a family.
Of course, I was afraid of coming here.
Somewhere inside I feel I may not succeed.
One tries not to think about it.
To be honest I left part of my life behind me.
I packed one bag and I came here.
This is risky!
Related Links
Mixed Blessing on PBS.org

CIA Factbook: Ireland

Economic and Social Research Institute

Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Ireland

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