€1.3 billion transferred from Ireland to countries outside EU in 2021

Statistics released by the EU show that there were was a total transfer of €37.7 billion from EU residents to non-EU countries in 2021 – with €1.3 billion being transferred from Ireland

Balanced against the flow of personal transfers into EU states, mostly to countries such as Romania and Poland which have large numbers of their citizens working in other EU states, the net transfer out of the bloc was €24.7 billion.

The increased levels of immigration from outside of the EU has seen the scale of outflows increase by 47% since 2015. 

Transfers from Ireland to countries outside of the EU amounted to €1.322 billion in 2021, representing approximately 0.3% of GDP. 


However, while the average per capita (per person resident) net transfer from the EU was €55 in 2021, the average in Ireland was almost five times as high at €260 per person. Of course, that is a crude enough measure – and the average transfer by the persons actually sending money home from Ireland to countries outside of the EU is much higher than €260 since that’s the average spread over the entire population

The next highest was France at €184 per capita, and even Germany whose governments have been noticeably liberal in encouraging both immigration to Germany and insisted upon this being an EU wide venture, had an average per capita transfer of just €75. 

Another crude measure would be to use the new PPS numbers issued to people from outside of the EU and EEA over the previous ten years who were likely to have been still resident in Ireland in 2021. That would yield an average transfer of around €4,400 for 2021. There is no way of accurately knowing of course, and the average for each adult is going to be much higher. Nor is there any means of separating money transferred from a person’s wages and money that was drawn down in social welfare payments, or indeed what is the proceeds of money laundering of criminal assets. 


The revelation that such transfers abroad were being made, readers may recall, led to an almighty pile-on against the independent TD for Galway West, Noel Grealish. He was almost universally denounced as a racist after he claimed in the Dáil in November 2019 that billions of Euro had been transferred by immigrants in Ireland to their countries of origin.

Grealish referred to World Bank statistics which showed that more than €10 billion had been transferred out of the Irish state from personal accounts in the previous eight years. The 2021 figure confirms that his reference to this being on average “just over €1 billion per year” was and is accurate. He also gave details on transfers to a number of countries including Poland and the United Kingdom which are also plausible on the basis of the recent EU figures.

It was, however, Grealish’s reference to the amount of money – €3.54 billion – transferred from Ireland by Nigerians, and his reference to the possibility that some of the transfers might have been “the proceeds of crime or fraud” that “triggered” the pile on, led predictably enough by Ruth Coppinger in the days before she was unelected by the people of Dublin West, who rose to describe Grealish and presumably the statistics as “disgraceful racism.”

Eoghan Murphy chipped in to state that the stats offered by Grealish was “not evidence,” and even though in his initial response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had stated that “the numbers that the Deputy quotes are no doubt correct,” Varadkar himself later joined in with the choir. There then followed a somewhat ludicrous period of “fact checking” which even involved the Central Statistics Office, all designed to “prove” that Grealish had basically pulled the figures out of his bottom. Most of the “fact checking” was on the lines of “No blacks, no dogs, no Irish” – “Granny got dollars from the brother in the Bronx so…” Well you know the rest. Oh and talk of dog whistles, etc, etc. 

He had not invented the figures, and the latest figures, which are sure to be far higher now given the more recent increase in immigration from outside of the EU, confirm that the level of transfers as referred to by Grealish were and are accurate. As Ben Scallan also noted last year, the state itself now admits that large amounts of illegal money has been laundered through Ireland by Nigerian criminal gangs.  

It ought to be noted that not only does the figure of €64 million laundered through Ireland by one gang, the Black Axe, greatly outweigh the much smaller sum of €17 million sent to Nigeria later quoted by Varadkar but they were all denying any Nigerian criminal activity of this nature here. 

What the latest EU figures prove is that the level of personal transfers from Ireland to countries outside of the EU was over €1.3 billion for one year alone in 2021. 

Given that Nigerians living in Ireland constitute one of the larger non-EU populations here, the figure of €3.5 billion over 8 years transferred to Nigeria from Ireland as provided by the World Bank – which appears still to be providing such statistics despite being “called out” by “fact checkers” here – is by no means implausible. 

Perhaps Deputy Grealish ought to demand an apology?


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