Positive benefit | 

Migrant children are saving Irish schools, sustainability chief says

Since Putin launched his attack on Ukraine, 80,000 innocent people have fled to Ireland in search of shelter.

Some 80,000 Ukranians have arrived in Ireland.

Níall FeiritearSunday World

Migrants are helping to rejuvenate the Irish countryside according to the CEO of a sustainability organization, Rural Link.

At the tail end of 2022, there were 1,890 Ukranian children enrolled in Dublin schools and 1,373 in Kerry.

Both the kids and their parents are leaving a very positive impression on Irish towns, according to Séamus Boland, chief executive of the non-profit organisation.

“People see it as a welcome change because these are people who come with great intentions, they’re hard-working, they’re trying to get involved and mix in with the community,” Mr Boland told Newstalk Breakfast.

Rural Link is a national network of organisations and individuals campaigning for sustainable rural development in Ireland and Europe. They represent over 600 community groups with a combined membership of 25,000.

Mr Boland travels the land regularly and says he has seen no hostility towards Ireland’s new arrivals.

“Travelling around rural Ireland, I see nothing of that kind of element of protest or disagreement with people coming into the area.

“It is also part of a greater growing acceptance that migrants, whether they are war refugees or others, come into this country and we can accommodate them and do so in rural Ireland,” he said.

Interestingly, Mr Boland thinks that Irish schools will benefit the most from increased student numbers and investment in infrastructure. Many schools will now no longer have to close.

“It’s a great story because it effectively does rejuvenate a whole range of things in rural Ireland.

“It brings people into the area, it brings services into the area and, of course, it is a great story.

“Looking at the figures here, a lot of schools now have increased numbers so that threat -of closure- dies away. In fact, it may even put pressure to expand the buildings that schools are in.

“That combined with people working from home in rural areas, I think we have a really good story in terms of rural regeneration,” Mr Boland said.

In March last year, the European Union gave Ukrainians the right to live and work in the bloc for three years.

Séamus acknowledged the issue of finding accommodation for everyone presents a real challenge but that it is one which the countryside is embracing.

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos