Wednesday 2 September 2009

Migration questions

NISRA has recently published a set of excellent reports dealing with the complex issue of migration into and out of Northern Ireland, including a statistical report on Population and Migration Estimates Northern Ireland (2008), and a report on the Long-term International Migration Estimates for Northern Ireland (2007-8).

Taken together both reports provide a wealth of data on this 'missing' component in the evolution of the population. Of course, as NISRA say: "Measuring migration is challenging", and many questions remain unanswered, including (critically for this blog) the political opinions of the migrants.

Both incoming and outgoing migrants comprise two distinct groups – those from 'third countries' (i.e. outside of the UK or Ireland) and those migrating to or from Great Britain. The 'third country' migrants are largely from the new EU Member States, and increased dramatically after 2004. The reports deal with the period up to 2008, so the effects of the current recession are, as yet, unknown. Between mid-2007 and mid-2008 there was a net in-migration of 'third country' migrants of around 4,400, which comprised in-migration of 15,400 and out-migration of 11,000. It is easy to see how the recession might tip the balance in the opposite direction, but we will have to wait for any evidence to emerge.

Migration to and from Great Britain gave Northern Ireland a net gain of 1,400 during the 2007-2008 period, but it is hard to know who these people may be. They may be English, Scottish or Welsh people moving to live in Northern Ireland (and thereby helping to cement Northern Ireland into the UK, unionists might hope) or they could be returning Northern Irish people who have chosen to live in their own country rather than a Britain that they like less (and thus dissolving some bonds between NI and the UK, nationalists might hope). They might be former students who had left NI to study in Britain, and their return might herald the reversal of the Protestant 'brain drain' (as the UUP at least might hope), or they might be predominantly made up of lowly educated Catholics who had been pushed into emigration by the high Catholic unemployment of the 1980s, and who might return fired with determination that this time Northern Ireland will give them what they deserve. As NISRA say in the report on Long-term International Migration Estimates: "Over the last five years population migration has become a prominent feature within public and political debate in Northern Ireland. This debate has created significant interest in and demand for migration statistics."

Ultimately, of course, even the best statistics on migration patterns cannot tell us much about the political future of Northern Ireland. Will the children of Polish Catholics become Irish nationalists? Just because most of the earlier Italian immigrants did does not mean that the same thing will happen. But will they become unionists either? Will they vote at all? Will they stay? Are migrants from the south (of Ireland) automatically nationalists? Perhaps, but perhaps there are also Protestants fleeing the 'papist state' of unionist fantasy? Are migrants from England really 'English' or are they the children of proud Irish nationalists who, despite a Leeds or a London accent, will identify with the nationalist side of Northern Irish politics.

These questions and many, many more will not be answered by NISRA. Only the electoral process will answer them, and only in the longer term. If the vote of one or other political block rises by more than its 'natural increase' (taken to be the increase of its religious support base) then we could start to assume that the migrants are contributing to that growth. But even here there are other factors that will muddy the waters – turn-out rates, intra-block rivalries, and so on.

Both blocks will, no doubt, have noticed the migration figures for the post-2004 period and will be developing strategies to attract the migrants to their cause. So far neither block has appeared to have succeeded, and if the recession leads to the return of net emigration then perhaps the parties will forget about the incomers again – unionists will return to fretting about the disappearance of their young people, and nationalist will return to fretting about their birth rate. This would be a shame, as the need to appeal to newcomers would oblige both blocks to re-evaluate themselves and to take cognisance of their strengths and weaknesses, which could only help to improve the extremely poor quality of local political discourse.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that Horseman,
You're either a mind reader or on top of your game!(Given my comment on your previous entry)
Interesting and intelligent blog.
For what its worth my strictly unscientific experience in the north (as a Dub)is that most english people living in the North regard it as a part of Ireland full stop and tend to vote sdlp due to what they regard as their non partisan reasonableness!!

Anonymous said...

"but perhaps there are also Protestants fleeing the 'papist state' of unionist fantasy?"

Great line! Unionists have so much in common with the conservatives in America. Say something enough and it automatically becomes fact.

Never let a good story get in the way of truth. Because we all have heard the MANY MANY stories of poor persecuted protestants in the south having their homes petrol bombed. Fleeing for the safety of Northern Ireland....lol

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"Thanks for that Horseman,
You're either a mind reader or on top of your game!(Given my comment on your previous entry)
Interesting and intelligent blog.
For what its worth my strictly unscientific experience in the north (as a Dub)is that most english people living in the North regard it as a part of Ireland full stop and tend to vote sdlp due to what they regard as their non partisan reasonableness!!"

I presume that's your attempt at humour.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

""but perhaps there are also Protestants fleeing the 'papist state' of unionist fantasy?"

Great line! Unionists have so much in common with the conservatives in America. Say something enough and it automatically becomes fact.

Never let a good story get in the way of truth. Because we all have heard the MANY MANY stories of poor persecuted protestants in the south having their homes petrol bombed. Fleeing for the safety of Northern Ireland....lol"

And the Oirish are known the world over for their truthfulness. You only have to see how they coped with the 'Irish Priest molests Irish school boy' stories (all 35 000 of them) to see that. Perhaps if The Irish had spent less time lusting after someone else's land they might not have subjected their kids to the lust of perverted Irish priests.

Anonymous said...

Ha, yeah because priests molesting kids only happened in Ireland. There was no scandal in countries like America, Canada, Australia, Argentina.... lol

Anonymous said...

"Under cross examination, the younger of the two told the court that when she met Mr Paisley, the Reverend David McIlveen and the Reverend John Douglas in March 2003, they told her they were shocked that they had not been contacted before.

She said she made a written statement and they told her to leave the matter in their hands.

The witness said she had first contacted her local Free Presbyterian minister about the alleged abuse nine years before that, but she believed he had done nothing because he wanted to protect the defendant.

The alleged victim, who is now 35, said she hoped the matter could have been sorted out within the church, as her only concern was that children would be protected.

The woman said she eventually contacted the police in October 2004."

RepublicanStones said...

Interesting Horseman (good summer I hope?).

Your last paragraph put a vision in my head of two old grannies serving pie to some bewildered judge at a village fair each desperately trying to convince him that thiers was the nicest.

Anonymous said...

When will the next full census be held in N.I.?

hoboroad said...

2011 will be the year of the next census.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"Thanks for that Horseman,
You're either a mind reader or on top of your game!(Given my comment on your previous entry)
Interesting and intelligent blog.
For what its worth my strictly unscientific experience in the north (as a Dub)is that most english people living in the North regard it as a part of Ireland full stop and tend to vote sdlp due to what they regard as their non partisan reasonableness!!"

I presume that's your attempt at humour.

Haha, Andrew I presume........?


02 September 2009 20:53

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"Ha, yeah because priests molesting kids only happened in Ireland. There was no scandal in countries like America, Canada, Australia, Argentina.... lol"

That's hilarious. The Irish speciality - "I've got a three legged donkey, therefore all donkey's must have three legs" - but you are right, The Catholic church also molested large numbers of children in America, Australia, etc, etc

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

""Under cross examination, the younger of the two told the court that when she met Mr Paisley, the Reverend David McIlveen and the Reverend John Douglas in March 2003, they told her they were shocked that they had not been contacted before.

She said she made a written statement and they told her to leave the matter in their hands.

The witness said she had first contacted her local Free Presbyterian minister about the alleged abuse nine years before that, but she believed he had done nothing because he wanted to protect the defendant.

The alleged victim, who is now 35, said she hoped the matter could have been sorted out within the church, as her only concern was that children would be protected.

The woman said she eventually contacted the police in October 2004.""

One alleged victim against 35 0000. Hmmmmmmmm

Anonymous said...

Catholics - 1,000,000,000
FP Church of Ulster - 12,000

Anonymous said...

Size isn't important...

Anonymous said...

Indeed, anon, I'm sure your wife consoles you size isn't important.

As for Irish people lusting for Irish land, well your inbred colonial bigotry won't see the irony in that jolly old tosh.

PS, Welcome back Horseman. Your blog is always worth a read.

Anonymous said...

The catholic / protestant unionist/nationalist discourse is of course interesting. You seem only to think in these terms when it comes to immigration. Soon, even the emerald isle, incl. N.I. will feel the muslim vote. This will make your present fretting seem like a storm in a glass of water.

Wake up!

Horseman said...

WRT the 'muslim vote', I don't think there's anything to fret about. Firstly because the numbers of muslims in Ireland, north or south, is relatively small. Secondly because even in countries with largish muslim minorities (France, Germany, eg) they have a negligible impact on politics, and thirdly because it is rather racist to assume that they will vote on religious grounds only, rather than on the normal issues that modern politics deals with.

Long before there is a noticable 'muslim vote' the muslims will be as integrated as, say, the jews. They will simply be Irishmen and women of a slightly darker hue who (maybe) go to a different type of 'church'.

I don't buy into the current (american-inspired?) anti-muslim sectarianism/racism.

Anonymous said...

FAO Horseman -

Oh dear...

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am aware that Catholic is not 100% = Nationalist and Protestant is not 100% unionist, but then again, why then are you obsessed with your "own" group getting in the majority (if that's not being racist in your ears...)

Is it really racist to assume, that a religious group will vote for their own, come on, what are you then doing in N.I., the pot calling the kettle black?
You do not have any parties, which really might be called non-sectarian, so when Sikhs, Muslims enter the scene, what will happen?

Besides, I do remember to have read quite a bit on this blog about the what the newly immigrated citizens, mainly Poles, who "tend" to be catholic, might vote. Elsewhere, I have read abt Poles filling up the catholic part in the N.I. police force.

Yes, you do not presently have a lot of muslims on the green isle. This will change, though, along with the unprecedented rise in Irish affluency. The pull factor (familiy reunification) is small, but the push factor, wealth creation, is definitely there, even if it has slowed somewhat for the time being.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, oh dear!!

3rd & last message from me today.

How do you in N.I. think you can keep away from the trend in the rest of the U.K.? "No man is an island onto himself":

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1047606/Immigration-births-non-British-mothers-pushes-British-population-record-high.html