The number of Irish residents who were born outside Ireland continues to increase and stood at 766,770 in 2011 an increase of 25% since 2006, according to the country’s latest census figures.
It means that foreigners now account for 17% of the population and the fastest growing groups were Romanians, up 110%, Indians up 91%, Poles up 83%, Lithuanians up 40% and Latvians up 43%.
Immigration by Irish nationals was 19,593 in the year to April 2011, of which 7,338 had previously lived in the UK, followed by Australia as the second most important country of origin at 3,921 and the United States in third place with 1,688.
Immigration by foreign nationals in the year to April 2011 was 33,674. No one country of origin stands out, but rather the data shows immigrants came from a large selection of countries. The largest groups came from Poland, the UK, France, Lithuania, Spain and the US.
A question on foreign languages was asked for the first time in census 2011. The results show that over half a million, some 514,068 Irish residents spoke a foreign language at home and that Polish was by far the most common, followed by French, Lithuanian and German.
There was also an increase in Irish traveller numbers. The number of people enumerated as Irish travellers in Census 2011 increased by 32% from 22,435 to 29,573, with all counties apart from Limerick and Waterford showing increases larger than the increase in the general population.
Meanwhile support is growing for Irish citizens to be granted renewable visas to live and work in the United States under a free trade agreement.
Irish politians are concerned that there are thousands of Irish people who live in the US without permission to stay. Under a new proposition 10,500 Irish workers could be granted renewable visas each year.
According to Fine Gael Clare Senator Martin Conway they live in daily fear of being deported.
‘They have not been home to visit their loved ones in Ireland for years. They’ve missed out on many family occasions, even funerals. For their sake and the sake of their families, I hope that this will succeed,’ he said.
He believes that the E3 visa, a temporary work visa specifically for citizens of Australia with a job offer in a specialty occupation in the US, should be introduced for Irish nationals. It allows family members to accompany the primary visa holder into the US. If applied in the Irish case, individuals or married couples with a job offer already secured could live and work in the US for two years.
Republican Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts is leading the campaign in Washington.