Immigrants in Ireland Credit: Irish Star

I predict Ireland is set for an anti-immigrant surge given the deteriorating economic situation in the country.

I can’t count the number of times the issue of immigrants and taking Irish jobs has arisen in conversations during recent trips over there.

Ironically it begins in the hospitals where there have been a number of recent high-profile cases involving foreign doctors being charged with negligence and in some cases even sexual assault of patients.

The influx of foreign doctors is, ironically, a clear sign of the Irish brain drain. Australia, Canada and other countries are snapping up Irish medical graduates who have cost the Irish taxpayers tens of millions to educate.

In order to fill the gap foreign graduates often from pretty exotic countries have been brought in.

While the vast majority is highly qualified it is also clear some are not given the number of incidents that have been reported.

It is an utter paradox that those most recently qualified leave for better careers abroad. 76,000 people left Ireland in the year to April 2011, the equivalent of one million Canadians leaving their country. It is an incredible figure.
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“We are losing our young, our best and brightest,” said David Monahan (48), the  Dublin artist whose photographs of emigrants leaving have caught the sad moments.

“It’s affecting our future economy, but also our sense of community,” he told the Toronto Star recently.

In many communities where immigrants were previously welcomed there are now clear signs of strain.

Some people assume that the “foreigners” are ripping off Ireland’s still generous social welfare system. With local Irish being crippled with taxes to pay off bankrupt banks, the anti immigrant sentiment seems a convenient scapegoat.

Time will tell if the anti immigrant lobby will grow but my anecdotal belief is that it will. I would not be surprised to see some Le Pen type political party take hold in Ireland if the economy continues to deteriorate.

Alas, that is the price for frustrated change and economic gloom.