Between January and June 2022, 6,494 applications for international protection were lodged in Ireland, with factors such as the war in Ukraine and labour market shortages contributing, according to new research.
This was a significant increase as compared to the 2,235 applications in the first half of 2019, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
This was the most recent year not affected by the Covid-19 pandemic (2019).
While there was also an increase in applications across the EU, Ireland was among a small number of EU countries that saw applications rise continuously throughout the first six months of 2022.
The ESRI research identifies key reasons for the marked increase in applications in Ireland in 2022 and finds that it is likely a confluence of several factors.
While a small number of international protection applications were from Ukrainian nationals, the vast majority fleeing Ukraine have applied for temporary protection in Ireland and are not examined in this research.
The key factors identified were Post-Covid-19 catch-up, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and conditions in countries of origin.
While Ukrainian nationals do not feature as much in the numbers, Russia’s invasion still had an impact as “the knock-on effects of the war on neighbouring countries and on socio-economic conditions in many other countries may be contributing to the increase in Ireland”.
Travel restrictions throughout the Covid-19 pandemic significantly reduced international migration for two years. With a sharp jump in applications from February 2022 onwards, Ireland may be seeing a form of ‘catch-up migration’. At the same time, the pandemic has also had economic impacts on countries globally, which has complex effects on migration patterns.
Conditions and conflict in countries of origin are also significant factors in the recent increase. The research identifies that for many of the top nationalities applying for international protection in Ireland (including Somali, Afghan, Ukrainian, Egyptian and Georgian), conditions and conflict in countries of origin are important drivers, the ESRI said.
Applications from these nationalities are increasing not only in Ireland, but across Europe.
Additional factors affecting the destination selection of Ireland
Policy changes in the UK were “unlikely to have had a significant effect on recent application figures in Ireland”.
However, “there may be a small deflection effect for certain nationalities (eg, South African and Zimbabwean), whereby instead of going to the UK, applicants come to Ireland”.
The UK is also seeing a significant rise in applications, and, while Ireland may be affected by some of this increase, the UK’s increase is driven by different nationalities, the ESRI stated.
Conditions in Ireland, including current labour market shortages, may be contributing to the increase.
“A long-term social network effect following growing immigration to Ireland over the last 30 years may also contribute to more asylum applications. While a generally positive perception of Ireland was also found to be a potential factor, the research concluded that it was highly unlikely that specific integration or reception policies in Ireland were influencing applications.
“Lastly, the routes available to travel to Ireland and intervening obstacles, such as distance, carrier sanctions and visa requirements, affect application numbers.”