Rural restructuring and rural in-migration patterns in Ireland
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In recent decades, the rural economic base in Ireland, similar to that of other developed countries across the globe, has witnessed a period of significant structural change, with academic literature coining the term rural restructuring to classify and describe this socio-economic transition. The restructuring or reshaping of rural areas is strongly influenced by the processes and patterns of globalisation. As a result, there has been a knock-on effect on population structure. Some locations, particularly those in close proximity to urban centres and with high levels of connectivity, have thrived whilst others, that are considered to be peripheral, have declined dramatically. In the past decade, there has also been a significant change in the ethnic composition of the population in Ireland. The foreign national population has steadily increased in both absolute and relative terms, from 5.8% (224,261) in 2002 to 12% (320,096) in 2011 (CSO, 2012). Despite the severe economic downturn, the number of foreign nationals has continued to increase, with a 124,624 rise in the number of foreign nationals between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses of Population. The changing ethnic profile of Ireland is not a purely an urban phenomenon, with specific rural areas types witnessing a dramatic and sizeable inflow of economic migrants from across the globe. In some instances, this has occurred through the establishment of asylum centres in rural locations, but this thesis is solely examining the role of economic migrants who can legally and legitimately work in Ireland. On average, foreign nationals account for 5.8% of the total population residing in ‘pure’ rural areas (excluding towns and villages), with specific rural locations having a significantly higher proportion. This thesis examines the linkages between rural restructuring and rural in-migration in Ireland and presents research findings from two contrasting case studies, specifically Counties Monaghan and Limerick. The utilisation of a cross-section of methodological tools, incorporating household and business questionnaires; and semi-structured interviews, whilst including secondary data analysis, provided a robust and triangulated approach to achieving the principle aim and objectives of this research project. Key findings from this study include: the diversification of the rural economic base providing employment opportunities for economic migrants (confined to particular rural area types), especially within low-paid and low-skilled occupations; the emergence of ethnic orientated / migrant businesses in locations with a high density of immigrants; a low labour market (job generation) multiplier effect associated with net in-migration; and a desire amongst in-migrants to remain resident at their current location for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, this thesis documents and analyses the various integration and diversity raising awareness initiatives / programmes devised by statutory and non-statutory agencies, thereby enabling the forging of positive community relations between the migrant and indigenous communities. However, these initiatives are currently being curtailed or abandoned due to a lack of financial resources. This thesis concludes by predicting future socio-economic and demographic changes within rural Ireland and by providing a list of recommendations for key stakeholders (migrant and indigenous communities; policymakers; statutory agencies; and community and voluntary sector) with respect to harnessing the socio-economic potential of migrants within a rural space.
Irish migration patterns
Monaghan rural restructuring
Limerick rural restructuring
Language (ISO 639-3)eng
PublisherMary Immaculate College, University of Limerick
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