An estimated 90,300 people made the move to Ireland during the period from April, 2017 to April, 2018, with only 56,300 individuals heading in the other direction, meaning Ireland boasted positive net migration figures for the third year running.
The net migration figure of 34,000 was higher than for the previous 12-month period, when 19,800 more people immigrated to Ireland than left the country.
The latest data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), released this week, show that among those making the move to Ireland were 28,400 Irish citizens, 7,300 citizens of the United Kingdom, and 23,800 from other European Union (EU) member states. Nearly 31,000 newcomers to Ireland were from non-EU states.
Net negative migration had been the norm from 2009 to 2015, when Ireland experienced the worst financial crisis in its modern history. Around the middle of that period, unemployment reached around 15 percent, with young people particularly badly affected — around one-in-three were out of work during the worst years of the crisis.
The healthy numbers released this week reveal the degree to which Ireland has consigned that particular crisis to its history books. Major concerns among newcomers and returning citizens are less likely to be focused on finding work — unemployment has fallen to a post-crash low of 5.8 percent, with wage growth around 2.5 percent — but rather on how far their earnings may stretch, particularly in the Dublin area.
The affordability of housing and car insurance costs have been identified as key areas of concern, with returning emigrants having also cited access to maternity benefits and eligibility for subsidized university tuition as stumbling blocks affecting their resettlement in Ireland.
Returning emigrants: pull factors
Ever since Taoiseach Enda Kenny launched an official policy to entice Irish emigrants back to their home country in early 2015, results have been mixed. Despite the number of returning emigrants having increased, that figure had still been outpaced by the number of Irish citizens leaving the country — until these latest CSO figures came out.
As recently as April, 2016, unemployment was still hovering close to 9 percent. Strong gains in employment since then have largely come in full-time positions with decent pay, as attested by the fact that wage growth this year has been at its highest level since the recession.
While every returning emigrant’s story is unique, it would be remiss to ignore the role played by family in the decision. Many returning Irish share a hope that their children, some of whom were born abroad, can enjoy a childhood spent in Ireland in the company of older family members.