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, Letterkenny
English, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Nigerian Pidgin, and other languages of Nigeria[2]
Christianity, Islam[3]

According to the 2011 census, there were 17,642 resident Nigerians in Ireland.



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]


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.[12] 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.[13] They are far more likely (90%) than other migrant groups surveyed to have children, whether in Ireland or elsewhere.[14] Furthermore, about half state that they are responsible for full or partial support of other adult or minor family members.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18] They are more likely than the other groups surveyed to find their employment through newspaper advertisements, rather than the internet or friends and family.[19] 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).[20] This marked a significant shift from their previous pattern of employment in their home country, and has been interpreted as evidence of deskilling.[21] About half of Nigerian men and two-thirds of Nigerian women feel that their qualifications are fully recognised in their main job.[22] Compared to other groups they have an intermediate level of income (majority reporting between €14,401 and €31,720).[23] Fewer than 2% are employed in predominantly Irish working environments.[24]


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.[25] A 2008 survey found that 50% of Nigerian respondents were registered to vote, more than double the other recent migrant groups surveyed.[26] 25% of the same survey group were again involved with trade unions, again far more than the other groups.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29] They are often stereotyped as criminals.[24] 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.[30]

Culture and community[edit]

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.[31] 95% rate themselves as having "fluent" or "adequate" command of English.[32] However, they are strongly likely to feel that they do not have many values in common with Irish people.[33]

Community organisations established by Nigerians in Ireland include the Nigerian Association of Ireland and the Igbo Association of Ireland.[28] 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.[34] Arambe Theater Productions, a pan-African drama group, was established in 2003 by Nigerian performance artist Bisi Adigun.[35] There is also a Nigerian-run beauty pageant, The Most Beautiful African Girl 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.[36][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]

The Association of Nigerian Doctors in Ireland (ANDI) was inaugurated in a dinner on 6 June 2015. The dinner was sponsored by Global Medics, an internationally recognised recruitment agency for doctors. Attendees included more than 100 Nigerian doctors from all over Ireland, as well as Nigerian ambassador to Ireland Bolere Elizabeth Ketebu.[39]


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.[40] 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%).[41]


  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. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 64
  13. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 63
  14. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 77
  15. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 106
  16. ^ McFadyen 2008, pp. 145–147
  17. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 87
  18. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 88
  19. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 89
  20. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 90
  21. ^ McFadyen 2008, pp. 92–93
  22. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 98
  23. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 105
  24. ^ a b McFadyen 2008, p. 123
  25. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 81
  26. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 79
  27. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 80
  28. ^ a b McFadyen 2008, p. 84
  29. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 94
  30. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 159
  31. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 138
  32. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 140
  33. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 142
  34. ^ IOM 2010, p. 14
  35. ^ McIvor 2008, p. 31
  36. ^ Komolafe 2002, Institution Building
  37. ^ "Nigerians put down new roots in Ireland", BBC News, 2 September 2004, retrieved 22 June 2011 
  38. ^ IOM 2010, p. 17
  39. ^ "Association of Nigerian Doctors in Ireland". Global Medics. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  40. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 101
  41. ^ 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