A supposed link between asylum seekers and increased crime rates is just one piece of misinformation spreading throughout Ireland.
That’s according to misinformation analyst Ciaran O’Connor, who addressed several “myths” surrounding asylum seekers on The Hard Shoulder today.
One of the main questions Mr O’Connor addressed was whether there is a link between international protection applicants and crime.
“Simply put – no,” he said.
“Asylum seekers are not a uniform block of people – there may be some people who break the law, and you hope the Gardaí take action against that,” he said.
“In March last year, Gardaí said there has been no significant increase in crime statistics as a result of the increase in asylum seekers coming in.
“This month, Gardaí said despite clear, consistent disinformation, the force has not recorded any increase in crime.”
Mr O’Connor described the link between crime and asylum seekers as “one of the most pernicious myths”.
'Ireland is not full'
Another popular form of misinformation, according to Mr O’Connor, is the idea that “Ireland is full”.
Mr O’Connor said many of the people who use that phrase are fully aware Ireland is not full.
“It’s used pejoratively,” he said. “People who proclaim or support it, they’re not basing this on facts or research.
“Ireland is not full – our population density is 72 people per kilometre, which is lower than that of many similar-sized European countries.
“In the 2022 Census, there were 160,000 vacant or disused homes and apartments.”
Compared to other European countries, in fact, Ireland offers the same services or less for asylum seekers, Mr O’Connor said.
“Eurostat put out figures in 2022 that found the proportion of IP applicants as a percentage of the [Irish] population was 0.18%,” he said.
“That’s compared to 0.6% for Austria, 0.2% for Belgium and 0.28% for Luxembourg.”
Asylum seekers getting jobs
The misinformation analyst also debunked the idea that international protection applicants never work and simply “sponge” off the Irish State.
“Don't forget asylum seekers are not allowed to work without permission,” he said.
“They must apply for permission to work and can only do so if they have not received a decision of their application for five or six months.
“Research from the ESRI in 2023 found that many asylum seekers work when they receive permission.
“Since 2018, 12,000 have received the right to work.”
Hard Shoulder host Kieran Cuddihy also pointed out the figures on asylum seekers arriving in Ireland also include minors and those above pension age, to provide context to the ESRI figures.
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