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What are the implications of the huge increase in work permits for migrants?

The most rational justification for immigration from outside of the EU/EEA through the work permits system is that it provides employers with lower paid workers, and with workers who are much less likely to join trade unions or to demand wage increases.

These workers are of course coming from countries where wages are very much lower.

Gript has covered this issue previously in relation to workers employed by Keelings and elsewhere.

Thady Andy also responded recently to the argument by “old right” economist David McWilliams who managed to combine the classical neo liberal argument for hiring lower paid help with the leftie liberal argument that while the Boss may be pocketing the cash, we all benefit from the diversity let loose into our grey lives once dominated by hurley wield Erse spouting Christian Brothers.

The far-left’s murderous idol Vladimir Illych Lenin once referred to the naive “useful idiots” whose higher sensitivities could be exploited to further the more basic instincts of his red thugs. Well, guess what my pinko friends?  In the current scenario the useful idiots are your good selves.

(Excluding of course the intimate of a certain leading communist who once advertised on Facebook for a cash in hand below the rate barista. Ahem….)

The number of people coming to Ireland under the work permits scheme has grown exponentially over the past decade. There were just 3,034 such permits issued in 2013 but following the brief intermission of the Covid panic, this has risen to 39,995 in 2022. Given that another 4,717 permits were issued in the first month of 2023 that figure will again be significantly exceeded.

This, of course, will be heralded as a sign of economic prosperity and no doubt for some it is. It ought also be balanced against a number of other factors. Not least being the fact, again as Gript has referred to previously, that much of the expansion of jobs in the IT sector is made up of people from outside of the EU/EEA. In combination with that sector’s tax status, and the artificial boost this gives to GDP, it raises questions as to the balance of benefits accruing from the relationship of Ireland with Big Tech.

While such workers pay tax and are generally from countries whose citizens are low maintenance in terms of crime and social welfare, they also add significantly to the pressures on housing demand, transport and so on. It is also notable that not an insignificant proportion of educated young Irish people who continue to leave the country seek employment abroad in sectors such as IT and health which are among the two main beneficiaries of the permits system here.

At the lower end, in terms of remuneration – although there are no reliable studies on the wage levels and the changes in wage levels within those parts of the IT and health sectors where non EU/EEA workers are most prominent – there is little doubt but that there is downward pressure on wages.

One of the three key sectors that employs workers on permits is food processing, and in particular the meat processing plants. These accounted for the 4,311 permits issued to the ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing’ sector in 2022.

One of those meat plants is Troy’s abattoir in Westmeath who recently advertised for ‘meat processor operatives’ for their factory at Rathnure.

Troy’s were issued with 32 permits for non EE/EEA workers in 2022. The advertised salary is €22,916.40 which corresponds to the yearly rate under the National Minimum Wage. Indeed, you might say that Troy’s are being generous given that the sectoral threshold for meat processing operatives is set at €22,000.


However, as others have pointed out, meat factor workers have generally been better paid, and certainly above most of the sectors which are the primary focus legislated for under the minimum wage.

The perception of people within the sector, as was reported by Gript several years ago, and as contained in reaction to the currently advertised rates of pay is that the work permits system has acted as a downward pressure on wages.



Employers will of course argue that they are first obliged to advertise the jobs locally, and that it is the shortage of local workers that has led to the large increase in the number of workers who come here either from other EU states or from countries outside of the EU and EEA.

The process by which such workers who qualify under the permits scheme are recruited was an issue in Keelings where workers were contracted though agencies based in their own countries who subtracted some of the money paid by Keelings which in effect meant that they were being paid below the minimum wage although Keelings claimed that this had nothing to do with them as they paid the advertised rate to the agency.

The Troy’s jobs are advertised by a company called Migrant.ie who describe themselves as “immigration specialists.”

The Director of Migrant.ie is Sinéad Murtagh who has a background in “human rights and equality advocacy.” Presumably this relates to her jobs in the disability sector rather than her previous employment in state departments although she did work as an equality officer with Pobal which comes under the aegis of the Department of Rural and Community Development. Pobal happily shares the same building on Ormond Quay with Migrant.ie, so they can swap notes on equality and all that stuff.

Apart from securing minimum wage workers, Migrant.ie also offers advice to “individuals, families, and companies seeking to work, live and strive in Ireland..” This includes advice on securing visas, work permits, residency and citizenship. It also used to offer advice on the Immigrant Investor Programme which was closed last month having been the subject of some debate regarding the fact that those from outside of the EEA who invested more than €1 billion through the scheme were effectively buying Irish citizenship.

As noted above, there is the argument that the Irish state has no choice but to take in tens of thousands of migrant workers from both within the EU and from countries outside of the EU and EEA. The most recent statistics on the issuing of Personal Public Service (PPS) numbers would indicate that the balance is shifting towards non EU migrants, even apart from those who have come here from Ukraine.

There is always a choice. The people in charge of the Irish state seem to have made the choice that the interests of private companies, many of them not even based in Ireland, ought to take precedence over any “vision” – if that is not an absurdly anachronistic term to apply to the Irish establishment – of an Irish Republic which puts its own people first.

Just remember, that in this the week of alleged celebration of what supposedly makes Ireland distinct, that in another 40 or 50 years, all that will be left will be the silly hats and beards and some ersatz watered down inoffensive crap peddled as Irish “culture.”

The indigenes may be reduced to just another ethnic group residing in the industrial estate of Ireland Inc.

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