Recently on Twitter, a video of a news report by RTE was shared around of a house in Templeogue, Dublin on sale for €795,000. The house was being inspected for purchase by an immigrant family, who appear to be from India. They say they had been renting for 3 years before this, and looking to buy for the last 2. The report also mentioned that house prices rose again last year, to no one’s surprise.
Just Indian immigrants viewing €795,000 suburban houses and RTE wondering why property prices are rising. pic.twitter.com/fiepXKJxGb— 243Cal 🇮🇪 (@243_cal) January 2, 2024
I’m going to address some common arguments made by the Left and Neoliberal Centrists that claim immigrants in high-wage jobs buying Irish houses is a good thing. The purpose is not to go after specific individuals, but to address these arguments, because they are still widely held by a large segment of the country. And they’re not true.
- “A law-abiding immigrant family clearly with good jobs. This is a benefit to our economy and society.”
This is a common response from those who oppose illegal immigration and fake asylum seekers but still see themselves as pro-immigration. It is true that at an individual level, this man isn’t doing anything wrong, and is just looking after himself, but at a national level, our open-door immigration policy means de-facto infinite demand.
The population of Ireland is 5 million, while India’s is 1.4 billion, and that’s just one country. If any immigrant who wants to come here and can get a job can, then we will never ever outbuild this, whether housing is managed by the state, the market, or both. Immigrants do not arrive with their own house, they buy from those already built by the people who are already here.
Immigrant tech workers and those in similar high-paying jobs buying houses is not a net gain for Irish people born here no matter how much tax he pays or how productive he is in the market. However hard migrant workers may have worked, and I’m sure many of them have worked very hard to get where they are, it is still wrong for them to be able to outbid ordinary Irish people, who were born here and whose families have been here for generations, when we are in a housing crisis that no one on any side of politics thinks will be going away in the near future.
According to the CSO, between 2016 and 2022, Ireland’s population grew by 387,274. “Natural increase made up 167,487 of the change. The estimate for net migration therefore is 219,787”. We currently build just under 30,000 homes per year. No matter how technical you want to to get on economics, you cannot escape this basic maths. It should be noted that Ireland’s birth rate is below replacement level, so our population growth is entirely as a result of immigration. 2023 is likely to see even higher growth levels than previous years.
Allowing migrants to continue to immigrate and buy up homes during a housing crisis is a dereliction of duty by the state, whose primary purpose is to its own people. If the entire world is just one big housing market, does this mean Irish people on low-wage salaries should just emigrate to a poor country? Certainly not, and anyone who would believe this is a psychopath.
- “But what about the economy? Companies will not be able to hire the skilled workers they need, and many jobs will go unfilled?”
Economics is a question of trade-offs, and what you are willing to prioritise in a system with finite resources and options available. The housing crisis trumps all other issues. Younger generations, especially those with average or lower-wage jobs, are priced out of the housing market and may never be able to buy a house.
The rental market in Dublin is so bad that people’s main concern is no longer even price but the fact that it is almost impossible to find anything available at all, and we currently have large-scale emigration by our own young people because of the housing crisis.
A multinational corporation not being able to hire enough software developers makes no difference in the ordinary person’s life in comparison, and should not be treated as remotely as important. More apps for your iPhone, Netflix shows, and video games mean absolutely nothing for your quality of life if you cannot buy a house and start a family. The average Irish person is much worse off.
Ireland has seen such a high growth in high-income earners in the country that according to Bank of Ireland economist Conall MacCoille “Ireland’s buoyant labour market has meant that high interest rates have not had a negative impact on property prices,”. House prices are predicted to rise again this year at an even higher rate if interest rate cuts begin in the Eurozone as expected. Whatever happens, house prices rise, and Paddy is worse off.
- “But what about the Health Service, sure that would be on its knees without Immigrants? Have you seen our hospitals?”
The health service is already on its knees, so that argument doesn’t fly. Hospital overcrowding is basically a permanent news story each winter.
There is an interesting debate to be had on how best to manage our hospitals and the recruitment of doctors and nurses, but technocratic debates should never be allowed to obscure plain and obvious truths.
Ireland is a first-world country in Western Europe, with several sectors of our economy that are world-class. There is absolutely no reason we are unable to produce doctors and nurses here to staff our hospitals and clinics, from our own native population, as all previous generations in all Western countries did. If we can’t, then either there is something rotten in the system, or the Irish specifically as a people cannot do it, but for some reason developing and third world countries somehow can overproduce enough for themselves and to export to us. This argument is obviously not true and hides the fact that poor countries health workers emigrating to rich countries ends up making the poor country much worse off.
As mentioned above, Ireland has high levels of emigration among its young, and this includes nurses and doctors. Ireland is the largest exporter of doctors in the OECD, while relying the most on foreign-imported doctors/nurses. Many nurses emigrate due to better prospects in countries such as Australia, so clearly we are producing a much higher rate of doctors and nurses than we imply whenever this is brought up.
9. Irish Nurses and Doctors are known for emigrating.— Pangur Bán 🧃 (@PangurBn10) February 5, 2023
In OECD countries, Ireland relies most on foreign-imported doctors/nurses
Why are our own trained nurses scrambling to leave while we import nurses abroad? pic.twitter.com/OnMQb3zNQ0
This doesn’t even take into account the fact immigrant families are consumers and not just producers, and will use the health service, as well as other fundamental services such as school places for children. And immigration takes out more than it puts into the Health Service. Supply and Demand, as people keep saying.
This is expected, given the data we have from other European countries on whether immigrants are a net contributor or net burden on social services. A recent Dutch study found immigration costs the Netherlands €17m per year. A Danish study showed non-EEC immigration to be a significant drain on the state finances.
4. Denmarks did a study and showed non-EEC migrants have shown to be a net drain by a large margin— Pangur Bán 🧃 (@PangurBn10) February 5, 2023
If our EU migrants are giving us a net fiscal loss, which for Denmark were net gain – then how much of a drain our are non-EEC migrants?https://t.co/o8Lr9iGjI2 pic.twitter.com/Gq198xkQiZ
Finally, if all the above is disregarded and all healthcare staff are allowed in, this still ignores the fact that most of our immigration is not doctors and nurses, and so we still import enormous numbers of people who we do not rely on for the health service.
- “But what about our international obligations, such as EU Freedom of Movement? What about the ECHR?”
EU Freedom of movement is its own issue, but as our politicians’ endless pontificating about Ireland’s newfound diversity shows, a large proportion of our legal immigration is of non-EU origin, which would not be covered by EU Freedom of movement which applies to migrants coming from EU countries.
The issue of the European Court of Human Rights concerns issues with asylum claims and not legal immigration as is the case here, which we can fully control when it pertains to non-EU migrants. And as countries like France and Britain show, the ECHR is not even a barrier when you really want to do something.
- “But he’s working a decent job. Would you prefer it if he was on benefits?”
Both are bad for the Irish People, and that is where my concern lies. Not with national economic metrics such as GDP, GNP, GNI, etc. The State’s primary duty is to its own people, and a view of the country solely as an economic zone for individuals to extract value out of is corrosive to the idea of civil society and National identity.
- “Corporations Bad – Stop Defending Them”
I’m not, and I have no personal bias at this point as to how house building is managed as long as the results are good. I am no fan of the Neoliberal view of Housing as an asset to invest in, seeing rising House Prices as a always a good thing for the economy, defending Investment funds buying up swathes of new houses over Irish families to rent out, or overzealous YIMBYs who would concrete over every last patch of green on the Island.
But still, most other Western countries have the same issue with seemingly permanent housing crisis in their major cities, all at the exact same time they have had mass immigration from the third world, a phenomenon which has been chiefly happening in recent decades since about the 90s. And whether under a more market-friendly party, or a more social democratic party, the issue shows no signs of ending.
Arguments that simply wish to blame capitalism also fall enormously short when one remembers that in previous eras, these same Western countries were able to not have these permanent generational housing problems, with most young people priced out, some when they were much more capitalist than they currently are. The single biggest change between now and the past is Mass Immigration.
Conclusion – Don’t Forget
Ultimately, there is no reason why this needs to be happening. Immigration is a policy choice by the government and not some force of nature like a hurricane that we can only react and adjust to, but never stop. Don’t allow people to make you think otherwise.