Ireland is becoming more reliant on foreign-trained medical staff

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Africa and Pakistan contribute the highest number of non-Irish doctors here.

Ireland’s increasing need for doctors is mainly being met by employing foreign-trained doctors, according to a new report from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

Research carried out by the RCSI’s Health Workforce Research Group found that approximately 700 Irish doctors graduate from the six medical schools in Ireland each year. However, the percentage of Irish doctors on the Medical Council register continues to fall.

While the number of new entrants to the register doubled between 2012 and 2015, the numbers of graduates from outside Ireland who joined the register accounted for two-thirds of all new registrants in 2015.

Africa contributes the highest number of doctors in this regard, with 28%, and Pakistan supplies more than 20% of Ireland’s foreign-trained doctors.

The report states that the systemic drivers of this trend include:

  • High rates of emigration among graduates of Irish medical schools, attracted by better working conditions, training and career opportunities in other English-speaking countries
  • The need to be compliant with the European Working Time Directive, which restricts hospital doctors’ working week
  • Increasing demand

The RCSI said an important new pattern is “the growth in the numbers of doctors trained in other European Union (EU) countries, which now represent 20% of foreign trained doctors”.

Graduates of medical schools in Romania, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic included not only nationals from these countries, but many non-EU nationals and a significant number of Irish nationals.

The analysis, which summarises Medical Council registration trends, alongside data from the HSE’s National Doctor Training and Planning unit, also profiles the nationalities and countries of training of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) working in Irish hospitals. While the numbers of NCHDs increased between 2011 and 2015, most of these were recruited to non-training posts.

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Less than a third of promised 4,000 refugees settled here

Crew members of the LÉ Niamh as they rescue refugees in the Mediterranean. Picture: PA

Less than a third of the 4,000 refugees the Government promised to accept by the end of the 2017 have been resettled here, according to the most recent figures released ahead of World Refugee Day on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, charities have called for a reversal of parts of the International Protection Act 2015, which narrowed the definition of family and removed the possibility for refugees to apply for extended family members to joint them in Ireland.

President Michael D Higgins has also highlighted the plight of refugees and the importance of international co-operation to support them.

“This year, as the world continues to struggle to find effective solutions to the horrors and fears created by wars, crises and violent attacks, as well as to the unprecedented levels of displacement they provoke, we should use World Refugee Day to strengthen our resolve to unite, and face these challenges together,” he said.

A total of 1,238 refugees have moved to Ireland since the Irish Refugee Protection Programme was announced in September 2015.

Almost 780 refugees moved from Lebanon and nearly 460 came from camps in Greece. A further 260 refugees will be brought to Ireland from the Lebanon by the end of the year, the Department of Justice has said, as will 320 people in Greece, who have been assessed and cleared for travel.

The Irish Refugee and Migration Coalition, an umbrella body for asylum and migration organisations, has called on the Government to reunite refugee families.

Nick Henderson, chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council, an affiliate of the coalition, said because of the change in family reunification rules, “hundreds of families will continue to be separated”, and “loved ones will remain in volatile and hostile areas as they have no other way out”.

Oxfam Ireland, also an affiliate of the coalition, called on the newly appointed Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, to urgently reverse the 2015 restrictions on family reunification.

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A ‘visible divide’ has opened up within the European Union between the ‘elite’ and the general population

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A “visible divide” has opened up within the European Union between the “elite” and the general population, according to a major survey of public opinion across the 28-nation bloc.

The report by the Chatham House international affairs think tank found the “decision makers and influencers” of the EU were notably more optimistic about the future and committed to a common set of European values.

In contrast, it said there was a “simmering discontent” among the wider public over a range of political issues – from immigration to the power of Brussels – with large sections viewing the EU in negative terms.

The report is based on a survey by Kantar Public of more than 10,000 members of the public and 1,800 “influencers” from politics, the media, business and civil society, from 10 EU member states, including the UK.

It found that the “elite” were far likely to feel they had done well out of the EU, with 71% saying they had benefited compared with just 34% of the public.

Members of the elite were twice as likely to say they felt “very proud” of their European identity – 29% compared to 14% of the public.

When it came to the greatest failures of the EU the public were most likely to point to the refugee crisis, bureaucracy and excess regulation, and immigration while the elite emphasised bureaucracy and regulation although they also identified the refugee crisis and immigration.

The survey found the public was more likely to believe another member state would follow Britain and opt to leave the EU – with 55% (not including UK respondents) saying they expected another country to go within the next 10 years compared to 43% of the elite.

Among the British public, 72% said they believed another country would leave – a figure only exceeded by Greece with 80%.

Brexit was not viewed as a significant threat to the EU by the elite who ranked it only 12th out of 15 possible threats to the future of the bloc.

However they were split on the way forward, with 37% of the elite saying the EU should get more powers, 28% supporting the status quo, while 31% thought powers should be returned to member states.

The report said that the survey had exposed a “visible divide” between the general attitudes, beliefs and life experiences of the two groups.

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Limerick mayor hopeful under fire for comments on immigrants claiming social welfare

Councillor Stephen Keary has been sharply criticised for comments made at a public meeting.

A Fine Gael councillor has been accused of engaging in “dog whistle” politics after it was reported locally that he made comments  suggesting an influx of Eastern Europeans see Ireland as an easy target to claim social welfare benefits.

Stephen Keary, who is a candidate to become the next mayor of Limerick, told a local council meeting that some non-nationals are a drain on the State’s resources, reports the Limerick Post.

Solidarity Councillor Cian Prendiville has sharply criticised Keary’s remarks, saying that he was engaging in the type of “divide and rule politics that people like Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen have tried to whip up racism and division”.

Labour Councillor for Limerick City East Elena Secas has also criticised Keary’s comments, calling on the Taoiseach to publicly condemn what was said.

Keary was speaking at this month’s Adare-Rathkeale district public meeting, when he made the comments. He suggested that the number of non-nationals claiming welfare was part of the reason why social housing lists and hospital waiting lists have lengthened in recent years, the Limerick Post reports.

Later speaking to the Limerick Leader, Keary defended his comments, saying that he stood over everything he said.

He said: “I stand over everything I said. I have had several positive comments commending my statement.”

Solidarity Councillor Prendiville accused Keary of trying to “scapegoat immigrants and those on social welfare” with his remarks.

Prendiville also said that it was Fine Gael policies in government that had contributed to the longer waiting lists for hospital treatment and social housing.

With nominations due to be held for Mayor of Limerick City and County Council within the next few weeks, Prendiville has urged local people to contact their representatives and ask them not to nominate Keary for the position.


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Asylum seekers insulted by allowance increase

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An increase in the direct provision allowance to €21.60 a week for adults and children is “offensively minuscule” and shows “no understanding whatsoever” of the lives of those dependent on it, asylum seekers and several groups representing them have said.

Some others, however, welcomed the increase as a step in the right direction.

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) and the Irish Refugee Council were critical of the announcement on Wednesday, by minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, that the allowance would increase by €6 a week for children and by €2.50 for adults.

Some 4,652 people were living in direct provision centres across the State in May, the most recent data, about one third of them children.

Direct provision was established in 2000 and sees asylum seekers accommodated in centres where they are provided with meals and a weekly allowance. Though children attend school, adults may not work.

Mr Varadkar said: “The Tánaiste and I believe this is an important measure. The increases will benefit everyone living within the direct provision system by providing more disposable income.”

The direct provision allowance was introduced with the system, at a weekly rate of IR£15 (€19.10) per adult and IR£7.50 (€9.60) per child. The adult rate has remained unchanged since, though the child rate was increased in January 2016 to €15.60. The increases will be from August.

In 2015 a cross-departmental working group, chaired by retired judge, Bryan McMahon, recommended increases to €38.74 for adults and €29.80 for children

Lucky Khambule, MASI spokesman, said members were “insulted” by Wednesday’s increases.

“We really feel insulted by the newly-elected Taoiseach, who seems to have no understanding whatsoever about what we have gone through in direct provision for 17 years.

“The Taoiseach said that these offensively minuscule increases would give asylum seekers more disposable income. If our situation wasn’t so serious this would be a joke. We were not consulted on this, no one asked us what we needed. We are furious that people think that €2.50 or €6 will do anything to address the damage caused to our lives by direct provision.

“The answer to our problems is not an increase to our allowance. It is allowing us the right to work. We have been living below the poverty line for so long, denied this basic right.”

The Irish Refugee Council welcomed the “modest” increase but said it was not enough.

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Gardaí examining if ‘pre-planning’ for London attacks occurred in Ireland

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The Garda’s security service is examining whether any “pre-planning” for the London attacks occurred in Ireland following claims from a former Muslim radical that a second of the three terrorists had stayed here.

The Irish convert, who spoke at a press conference organised by a prominent Dublin Imam last Friday, also claimed there were 150 extremists living here.

While counter-terrorism officers stress they do not yet know if, or to what extent, the claims are accurate, sources said they were taking them “very seriously”.

Gardaí have already identified that one of the terrorists, Rachid Redouane, had lived in Ireland, with known addresses in Dublin.

An Irish woman from Limerick, referred to as Aaliyah, told the media that a second London attacker and suspected ringleader, Khuram Butt, had also been in Ireland.

Butt was known to police and MI5 after publicly associating himself with hate preacher Anjem Choudary and other extremists in his Islamist network, al-Muhajiroun.

Aaliyah, who converted when she was 18, associated with Choudary’s network in Britain and was engaged to one of its associates.

The now 26-year-old told the media that not only had Redouane been in Ireland but so too had Butt.

She claimed she saw Butt in Ireland “two or three times” and that he and other extremists operated out of a house in the Santry area of north Dublin and that many of them also lived in properties in Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary.

She claimed Butt was “visiting people” in Ireland and “giving talks” while staying here for a few weeks “on and off”. She claimed the dream of the extremists here was “to have an army for jihad”.

The woman said she was deradicalised with the assistance of a London-based Imam and his wife. Recently she approached Dr Umar Al-Qadri, imam of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Blanchardstown, west Dublin.

Garda security officers have interviewed Aaliyah at length and are now investigating her claims. “Absolutely, this is a serious development, if what she says is true,” said one source.

“Inquiries are being conducted to see can we confirm or dismiss the claims.”

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Islamic radicals in Ireland now number ‘100 or more’

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Islamic extremists now number “100 or more” in Ireland, a leading Muslim cleric has warned. Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar al-Qadri said he warned two years ago that extremism posed a problem to Ireland “but nobody listened”.

Those warnings were laid bare this week when it emerged that London Bridge attacker Rachid Redouane had lived in Dublin for some time.

“Now it has been proven. The truth is that hate narratives must be called out and sidelined by the Muslim leadership,” added Dr al-Qadri.

The Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (IMPIC) believes there is now clear proof that extremism in Ireland is far greater than initially believed – and that some Irish-based radicals have had contact with such UK extremists as Anjem Choudary and Khurram Butt.

Choudary, a leading figure in the radical group al-Muhajiroun founded by Omar Bakri Muhammad, is now serving a prison sentence in the UK for inviting support for Isil.

Butt was one of the three attackers shot dead by police after the terrorist atrocity near London Bridge last weekend.

Dr al-Qadri said he feared extremists and their sympathisers could now number “100 or more” in Ireland.

“Not being aware of it or being ignorant of it is not enough. I want Muslim leaders in Ireland to take the lead in speaking out against extremism, of providing a counter-narrative to the messages of hate and of telling people you can be a good Muslim and a good Irish citizen,” he said.

The Islamic cleric said it was now clear that extremism had been dangerously underestimated in Ireland. There is concern that extremists have deliberately relocated here for travel and logistical purposes.

Dr al-Qadri said there had been ample warnings that Ireland needed to take extremism seriously.

“It is shocking that extremists in Ireland propagate their hate narratives openly on social media. They even have a public page,” he said.

He warned the only way such fanatics can be defeated is if individual Muslims stand up to extremism.

“Isil plans its attacks to create more division and hatred in our societies,” he said.

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