Nigerians in Ireland

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Nigerians in Ireland
Total population
17,642 (2011)
Regions with significant populations
Dublin and surroundings (Clondalkin, Tallaght, Blanchardstown),[1] Limerick, Galway, Letterkenny
English, Yoruba, Igbo, Other languages of Nigeria[2]
Christianity, Islam[3]

According to the 2011 census, there were 17,642 resident Nigerians in Ireland, representing a 9.67% change over the 2006 figures of 16,300 Nigerian born people resident in Ireland. They constitute the largest African group in the country.



Recent Nigerian migration to Ireland began after Nigeria's independence from the United Kingdom in 1960; migration began to accelerate slightly during the late 1960s Nigerian Civil War, though it remained small.[4] Early Nigerian migration to Ireland consisted primarily of businesspeople, especially in the fishing industry (Irish-exported mackerel is widely consumed in Nigeria). Other early migrants included medical students, who had intended to return to Nigeria after completing their courses, but ended up staying in Ireland. Migration began to become more noticeable after 1981.[5] Medical students trained at the Royal College of Surgeons as well as Trinity College.[6] The first significant mass-migration of Nigerians to Ireland comprised Nigerians from the United Kingdom. Most came only with the intention of extending their UK visas and then returning, but the ones who failed settled down in Ireland as illegal immigrants.[7] After the landmark High Court case Fajujonu v. Minister for Justice, which prohibited deportation of parents of Irish-born children, more Nigerians began coming to Ireland.[8] Then, from around 1996, during Ireland's "Celtic Tiger" period of rapid economic expansion and labour shortages, some Nigerian workers were recruited from overseas by Irish companies, while others came to the country, seeking either opportunities for jobs, or to set up niche businesses aimed at other African migrants providing goods and services which they expected would not otherwise be available in the Irish market.[9] Between 2002 and 2006, the population of Nigerian citizens in Ireland grew by 81.7%, according to Irish census figures, making them the country's fourth-largest migrant group at the time.[10] Many recent migrants are asylum-seekers.[4] However, from 2002 to 2009 the number of Nigerian applicants for asylum fell sharply, dropping from a peak of 4,050 to just 569.[11] The sharp drop in Nigerian asylum applicants was due to the obtaining residency via parentage of Irish citizen children or marriage to Irish and EU spouses and due to the high failure rates in the granting of asylum and the granting of leave to remain. Nigerians were also in the top 3 candidates for deportation orders.[12]


Though their migration is relatively recent, Nigerian migrants mention that they had contact with Irish people and institutions in their home country, such as charitable activities run by Irish Catholic clergy or Irish non-governmental organisations, which contributed to their positive image of Irish people prior to migration.[13] Among Nigerian respondents to a 2008 survey, 40% had no friends or family in the country at all prior to arrival, double the rate of other migrant groups such as Indians and Lithuanians, though slightly less than Chinese. 22% mentioned education and training as their motivation for migration, while 16% mentioned joining family.[14] They are far more likely (90%) than other migrant groups surveyed to have children, whether in Ireland or elsewhere.[15] Furthermore, about half state that they are responsible for full or partial support of other adult or minor family members.[16] More than 80% were married, and those, for about one-fifth, their partners lived in Nigeria rather than in Ireland; more than 90% have children.[17]

Prior to 2004, liberal citizenship laws entailed that any child born in Ireland was an Irish citizen, regardless of the nationality of the parent or their link to Ireland. After the landmark High Court case Fajujonu v. Minister for Justice, which prohibited deportation of parents of Irish-born children, more Nigerians began coming to Ireland, some initially seeking asylum and then giving birth shortly upon arrival. However reform was sought by the general public to the phenomenon known as "anchor babies" . In the Supreme Court case of L. and O. v. Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, delivered on 23 January 2003, it was held that a foreign national parent of an Irish-born child did not have an automatic entitlement to remain in the State with the child. As a result of that case the Minister reviewed his policy. The Minister decided that the separate procedures for the consideration of residency applications based solely on parentage of an Irish-born child should cease with effect from 19 February 2003. At that date a total of 11,493 applications, which had been made on this basis, were outstanding. This review became known as the IBC 05 Scheme. In addition, Irish citizenship laws were amended by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 2004 for future cases, removing the automatic right of Irish citizenship at birth were parents of the child were non-Irish. As of January 2006, a total of 17,917 applications under the IBC 05 Scheme were received and processed. A total of 16,693 applicants were given leave to remain under the scheme and 1,119 were refused.[18] It has been cited that Nigerian nationals made up 59% of applicants of the IBC 05 Scheme and 57% of successful applicants.[12]

Business and employment[edit]

A 2008 survey found that 86% of Nigerian respondents had been employed before migration to Ireland, while just 8% were full-time students. 27% had been self-employed, a much higher rate than other migrant groups surveyed. 25% had worked as managers and executives, 11% in business and commerce, 17% in local or central governments, 12% in health-related occupations, and 5% in personal services.[19] Only 16% had a job offer in Ireland prior to arrival, about double the rate of Chinese respondents, but less than a third the rate of Indian or Lithuanian respondents.[20] They are more likely than the other groups surveyed to find their employment through newspaper advertisements, rather than the internet or friends and family.[21] About half of the survey respondents were employed at the time of the survey, with another 16% of men and 13% of women looking for work. Many work in personal services and childcare (positions such as care assistants, security guards, waiters, or hotel staff).[22] This marked a significant shift from their previous pattern of employment in their home country, and has been interpreted as evidence of deskilling.[23] About half of Nigerian men and two-thirds of Nigerian women feel that their qualifications are fully recognised in their main job.[24] Compared to other groups they have an intermediate level of income (majority reporting between €14,401 and €31,720).[25] Fewer than 2% are employed in predominantly Irish working environments.[26]


Compared to other migrant groups, Nigerians have been noted for their high level of involvement in electoral politics, community organisations, and anti-racism struggles.[6] By 2008, two Nigerians had been elected to city council positions in Ireland, namely in Portlaoise (Rotimi Adebari) and Ennis.[27] A 2008 survey found that 50% of Nigerian respondents were registered to vote, more than double the other recent migrant groups surveyed.[28] 25% of the same survey group were again involved with trade unions, again far more than the other groups.[29] Involvement in political and civic activity tends to be high among asylum seekers while they are awaiting the completion of the asylum process, but drops off afterwards due to increased demands on their time by employment.[30] The same survey found that, Nigerians, in common with Chinese, often reported racism or discrimination in the workplace. They stated that they often suffered bullying from their managers as well as their co-workers.[31] They are often stereotyped as criminals.[26] They are also more likely than other groups surveyed to feel that Irish people are not accepting of diverse cultures and communities as part of society.[32]


There are many Nigerian organisations in Ireland. Most are affiliated with the Houston, Texas-based Nigerian Union Diaspora (NUD), which is the umbrella Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) for the economic and political empowerment of the people of Nigerian descent outside Nigeria.[citation needed] Community organisations established by Nigerians within Ireland include the Nigerian Association of Ireland and the Igbo Association of Ireland.[30] Nigerian organisations are typically ethnic-specific (as in the Bini Community in Ireland and the Igbo Progressive Union) or local-specific (as in the Association of Nigerians in Galway). There is also an umbrella organisation, the Nigerian Association Network in Ireland. Nigerians are also active in pan-African organisations and general migrant organisations.[33] Arambe Theater Productions, a pan-African drama group, was established in 2003 by Nigerian performance artist Bisi Adigun.[34] There is also Nigerian Carnival Ireland (NCI), an annual festival to celebrate Nigerian & other ethnic cultures in Ireland, established in 2010 by Nigerian TV personality & consummate speaker Yemi Adenuga. A Nigerian-run beauty pageant, The Most Beautiful African Girl is also in Ireland. Some Nigerian churches have been established in various places in Ireland, along with various Nigerian-owned shops and restaurants, especially in Dublin's Moore Street.[35][36] The Association of Nigerian Doctors in Ireland (ANDI) was inaugurated in a dinner on 6 June 2015.[37]

Nigerians have also established several magazines such as Bold & Beautiful and Xclusive. Nigerian television stations are available through satellite providers such as Africa Independent Television and BEN Television.[38]


Yoruba and Igbo were the most common spoken languages by the Nigerian community in Ireland. According to the Irish population and housing census of 2011, 10,093 people spoke Yoruba at home, making it the most widely spoken African language in the country, while 3,875 spoke Igbo. Other Nigerian languages were not specified.[39]

In contrast to other migrant groups surveyed, Nigerians have a high level of English usage in almost all kinds of interactions, including with children, with other Nigerian friends, in other socialisation, and at work; only communication with partners was an exception to this trend.[40] 95% rate themselves as having "fluent" or "adequate" command of English.[41] However, they are strongly likely to feel that they do not have many values in common with Irish people.[42]


In a 2008 survey, about one-third of Nigerian respondents were in education on a part-time or full-time basis, mostly at tertiary institutions. They often face high tuition fees, due to the requirement that students have been employed and paying taxes in three out of the five preceding years to qualify for reduced European Union tuition rates.[43] The same survey found that 90% of Nigerian respondents had made use of health services in Ireland (such as GPs, hospitals, community health centres, medical cards, and private insurance providers), a much higher rate than the other groups surveyed (Chinese, Indians, and Lithuanians, ranging from 40% to 60%).[44]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ IOM 2010, p. 11
  2. ^ McFadyen 2008, pp. 137–138
  3. ^ IOM 2010, pp. 13–15
  4. ^ a b IOM 2010, p. 6
  5. ^ Komolafe 2002, A Brief History of Nigerian Migration to Ireland
  6. ^ a b IOM 2010, p. 7
  7. ^ Komolafe 2002, Visa Extension-Seekers
  8. ^ Komolafe 2002, Legal Resident Status Seekers
  9. ^ Komolafe 2002, 'Celtic Tiger' Migrants
  10. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 55
  11. ^ IOM 2010, p. 9
  12. ^ a b "HLG 3 – Asylum, Immigration and Citizenship" (PDF). Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  13. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 64
  14. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 63
  15. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 77
  16. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 106
  17. ^ McFadyen 2008, pp. 145–147
  18. ^ "Bode (a minor) -v- Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform & ors : Judgments & Determinations". Courts Service. 20 December 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  19. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 87
  20. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 88
  21. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 89
  22. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 90
  23. ^ McFadyen 2008, pp. 92–93
  24. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 98
  25. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 105
  26. ^ a b McFadyen 2008, p. 123
  27. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 81
  28. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 79
  29. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 80
  30. ^ a b McFadyen 2008, p. 84
  31. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 94
  32. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 159
  33. ^ IOM 2010, p. 14
  34. ^ McIvor 2008, p. 31
  35. ^ Komolafe 2002, Institution Building
  36. ^ "Nigerians put down new roots in Ireland", BBC News, 2 September 2004, retrieved 22 June 2011
  37. ^ "Association of Nigerian Doctors in Ireland". Global Medics. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  38. ^ IOM 2010, p. 17
  39. ^ "Profile 6 - Migration and Diversity" (PDF). Central Statistics Office. October 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  40. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 138
  41. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 140
  42. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 142
  43. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 101
  44. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 85


Further reading[edit]

  • Komolafe, Julius (July 2008), "Nigerian migration to Ireland: movements, motivations and experiences", Irish Geography, 41 (2): 225–241, doi:10.1080/00750770802077016
  • Sugrue, Nicola (2006), Integration or segregation? Nigerian new migrants in Ireland, M.A. dissertation, University of Leeds, OCLC 75272189
  • White, Elisa Joy (January 2009), "Paradoxes of diaspora, global identity and human rights: the deportation of Nigerians in Ireland", African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, 2 (1): 67–83, doi:10.1080/17528630802513474