27/02/2008

Racist Attacks Target Polish Immigrants - But Their Numbers Falling

There has been an increase in the number of apparently racially motivated attacks in Co Armagh.

Police have said they are "extremely concerned" about an increase in these racist attacks in Portadown.

As a result, officers are on daily patrols in the Killycomain area and have introduced extra weekend patrols as well.

Speaking through an intepreter on BBC Radio Ulster today, one Polish woman - who didn't want to be identified described how her son was attacked.

"He was hit on the head by two boys and was taken to the hospital, he had stitches on his head, and that case was reported to the police", she said.

However, the huge influx of Polish workers, which has transformed the labour market across the whole of the UK, has peaked, official statistics have now disclosed.

More than 750,000 east and central European immigrants have flocked to all parts of Britain since eight former eastern bloc countries joined the EU in 2004.

But the tide seems to be turning as the economies of the new EU member states strengthen.

The numbers of east European immigrants approved to work in Britain dropped from 227,875 in 2006 to 206,905 last year, a fall of nearly 10%, and the trend is expected to accelerate over the next decade.

Poles, who make up two-thirds of the newcomers, are understood to be returning home in greater numbers, drawn by higher salaries, job shortages and the fall in the value of the pound.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Head of Migration at the Institute for Public Policy Research, said some were choosing to work in other EU countries which were loosening employment rules.

"Migration from Poland is very unlikely to continue at the levels we have seen in the first few years we have seen after enlargement," he said.

"It has always been a question of when these flows started drying up, rather than whether they would."

(BMcC)




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