Asylum applications to Ireland hit record levels in 2022

A photograph taken on June 12, 2023 shows a makeshift refugee and migrant camp outside the Irish government's International Protection Office, in Dublin city centre.
Image caption,The Irish government had to take “extraordinary measures” such as temporarily housing people in tents

An annual analysis of migration figures shows how Ireland experienced a sharp rise in most types of immigration in 2022.

The country had a record number of asylum applications as well as big increases in people moving to the country for work and education.

The asylum numbers are further increased when Ukrainian people are included.

Ukrainian asylum seekers are counted separately as they are currently covered by a different legal framework.

The report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) draws on official data.

It shows a total of 13,651 non-Ukrainian applications for international protection were made in 2022, a 186% increase from 2019, the last comparable year before pandemic-related travel restrictions.

The top three countries of origin were Georgia, Algeria and Somalia, accounting for 45% of all applicants.

Earlier analysis from the ESRI suggested that the overall increase in asylum applications was likely a result of the end of pandemic travel restrictions; instability and conditions in countries of origin; a minor deflection effect from the UK; and long-term social network effects.

Ukrainian refugees

Between March and December 2022 almost 68,000 people arrived in Ireland from Ukraine under the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive.

As of December 2022, 87% of those who had been granted temporary protection had recent activity indicating that they were still living in the country.

That sudden and unprecedented influx placed significant pressure on Irish state resources with the ESRI noting the government had to take “extraordinary measures” such as temporarily housing people in tents and passing legislation which allowed public buildings to be used for emergency accommodation.

Hand on laptop
Image caption,Almost 40,000 work permits were issued in 2022 with the IT sector the largest recipient

The figures also show that the number of work permits issued to non-EU or non-UK people was also at a record high.

Almost 40,000 permits were issued in 2022, more than double the previous peak in 2019.

That reflects a widening of the sectors for which employment permits could be granted in response to very low unemployment in Ireland.

India was the most common nationality (15,695 permits, 39% of the total ) followed by Brazil (4,304, 11%) and the Philippines (2,203, 6%).

The IT sector was the largest recipient of employment permits in 2022 (10,382 permits) with health and social work (9,791) in second place.

Keire Murphy, one of the authors of the report, said it shows that “as in other EU countries, migration in Ireland is recovering from the travel restrictions of the previous years, with numbers across migration types returning to previous levels or higher”.

She added: “The report also highlights significant policy and operational developments in 2022 in response to these changes, as well as major challenges.”

Housing crisis

The most recent figures suggest the Republic of Ireland’s population grew by almost 98,000 people between April 2022 and April 2023.

That was the biggest increase since 2008 and was largely driven by immigration.

Ireland’s government was already struggling with a housing crisis before the increase in immigration.

Right wing protesters have held a series of demonstrations at asylum accommodation centres and are attempting to use the issue as a way to grow support ahead of elections next year.

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