I’ve just finished reading Right-Wing Ireland? The Rise of Populism in Ireland and Europe by Michael O’Connell (ISBN 1-094148-34-4). While the book mostly discusses Euro-scepticism and rascism, the best line in the book, in the section on the effect on the political climate of an economic slump, is:
There are few more reactionary forces than a million p*ssed-off yuppies who can’t meet their mortgage repayments.
However, the book quotes surveys that indicate that people with less income and less education (which may have contributed to their less income), not the yuppies, that feel threatened by immigration since they see themselves competing with immigrants for both jobs and social welfare.
The book also makes several points about immigrants and crime, or of crime statistics, that I found noteworthy. The book was timely since just last week I saw a newspaper headline saying that 25% of the prison population are immigrants. A similar headline from 2003 – “One in five sent to prison non-nationals, study shows” – from the same paper, I believe, boiled down to closer to 17% being non-nationals, and 17% of those non-nationals being from the UK or elsewhere in the EU rather than being the stereotypical immigrant evoked by the headline.
As to why there is a high proportion of non-nationals in Irish prisons, several pages of discussion of studies of crime and racial groups in multiple countries is summarised thus:
Higher levels of offending by non-nationals, while far from inevitable (given generational and cultural differences) are possible, in the context of the economic and social disadvantage of many newcomers, as well as low self-esteem, alienation, cultural problems, possible trauma, the experience of racism and discrimination, as well as the systematic exacerbation of the situation caused by apparently neutral legal practices.
I don’t have an answer. The book refers to policies in Sweden that “have contributed to keeping second-generation immigrant crime low.” From this remove it would appear that those sorts of policies seem to be in place in Ireland, but the tone of the book would indicate that that not enough is being done.