Irish President defends rights of migrants

Speaking in New York ahead of his address to the UN General Assembly, Irish President Michael D Higgins defended the rights of migrants and their contribution to society.

President Higgins made his remarks  in the wake of the controversy surrounding comments by independent TDs Noel Grealish and Michael Collins.

Citing recent European elections, President Higgins said that it was quite “sinister” that migration was identified as the most important issue for some voters in places like rural France, places with little recent experience of migration. He said that in some communities there had been insufficient communication of the matter and that this had to be addressed.

While Mr Higgins said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on individual personalities or political parties, he said that it was important to highlight the facts concerning the contribution of migrants to society.

"Very, very few people know the fact that last year’s global gross domestic GDP- between 10 per cent and 12 per cent - was provided by migrant workers. You then look at the evidence that is sometimes fired around have migrants replaced workers in any of the different categories - the empirical evidence is that they have not. You then look as well as that have migrants replaced workers or people on the housing list. They have not. So what people must do is . . . correct these facts when they’re abused in this way.”

Criticising what he described as the “re-emergence of stereotypical depictions of migrants and displaced individuals from poorer, developing parts of our planet,” he said these depictions often emanate “from the destructive rhetoric of the most powerful seeking to galvanise vulnerable, often desperate and marginalised groups with a language of fear of the other that is often racist, xenophobic and grounded in hatred, fear and ignorance."