Ireland is home to more than 600,000 people who weren’t born here - more than 12% of our population. Here’s some information about nonprofits that have been formed by and for these communities – focussed mainly on immigrant support, cultural, religious and business affiliation, and social justice advocacy for immigrants and refugees.
About 400 nonprofits in Benefacts database are devoted to immigrant support and social or cultural affiliation in Ireland. Some of these are affiliation bodies established by immigrants themselves, and they are the focus of this article, together with advocacy or friendship organisations that have been established to promote the interests of refugees and immigrant communities
Two thirds of these organisations have a focus on people from particular places. The rest address a myriad of causes and interests not necessarily limited to any ethnicity: these include immigrant rights, refugee advocacy, support for integration and multiculturalism, culture, education, sport, welfare. 10% specifically focus on refugees and their needs.
Here’s the profile of the 270 immigrant affiliation, support and advocacy nonprofits that have a geographic focus.
Ireland has international affiliation organisations representing more than fifty world regions, nations or communities.
African communities in Ireland have created the greatest number of affiliation organisations. The countries with the greatest number of these organisations in Ireland are Nigeria (50), followed by India (28), Poland (22) and China (18).
Typically these nonprofits provide social, educational, cultural and other supports. Polish people in Ireland, for example, have established a runners club (in Swords), libraries or information resources (in Dublin and Limerick), a cultural centre (in Cork) and a number of language schools and local community associations in Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Longford, Meath, Waterford, Westmeath and Wicklow. Sudanese people have created community or friendship associations in Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Carlow, and a doctors’ union.
Although there are longer-established affiliation organisations established by African, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Nigerian, Ogun state, Oromo, Pakistani, Polish, Romanian, Sierra Leonean, Lithuanian, Ukrainian communities, most international affiliation organisations were established here in the last decade. 60% are registered as charities.
Migrant and refugee advocacy and support organisations take a variety of forms and number about 120 nonprofits, of which 88% are registered charities.
Their focus is diverse. Some provide information advice and support to refugees, migrants and ethnic minority communities, and raise awareness about their needs.
Examples are NASC, Clonakilty Friends of Asylum Seekers, and the Welcome Immigrant Centre in Cork; Doras Luimni in Limerick; Places of Sanctuary, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the Migrant Information Centre and Spiritan Asylum Services in Dublin, K.A.S.I. in Kerry; the Dun Laoghaire Refugee Project; I-Smile International in Fingal; Deise Refugee Response in Waterford; and many others operating locally.
Others seek to celebrate diversity and counter racism, and provide a forum for inter-cultural exchange.
Examples are Cultúr, Celebrating Diversity in Meath; Ivosta, European Network Against Racism and Show Racism the Red Card in Dublin; and many others operating at a local level in Clare, Dublin City, Fingal, Galway, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Monaghan, South County Dublin, Tipperary, Waterford and Wicklow.
Others are networks of immigrant communities, established to promote positive change in policies that impact on their lives.
Together, these 400 organisations are widely distributed across Ireland. Whereas half are registered as companies or charities, the only source of data for 200 is their registration with their local Public Participation Network (PPN). PPNs are an important source of research data on local Irish nonprofits that are usually not otherwise registered with a national regulatory authority such as the Companies Registration Office or Charities Regulator.
The absence of data from Donegal, Roscommon and Offaly doesn’t mean there are no immigrant organisations in these counties – just that these PPNs don’t publish membership information.
Not included in this analysis are cultural and language institutes – many of them long-established on the Irish scene. These include the Alliance Française – which has registered nonprofits in Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny and Waterford – and the Goethe-Institut and Instituto Cervantes, which are programmes of the German and Spanish governments respectively.
Nor have we included the joint Irish-international chambers of commerce with African countries, Arab countries, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium/Luxembourg, Britain, France, Georgia, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Serbia, and the United States.
Churches and other places of worship catering for specific ethnic communities are not possible to count definitively. We have no data on many informal networks, for example with a cultural or sports focus, or the networks of families involved in inter-country adoption.
And of course, international affiliation and support is not restricted to organisations exclusively dedicated to these purposes. It’s clear from the lists of nonprofits funded in 2018 and 2017 under the Community Integration Fund that hundreds of local bodies around Ireland – local schools and GAA clubs, family resource centres, church bodies, festivals – get involved in engaging with new communities.
Benefacts’ database includes information on more than 32,000 nonprofits that are incorporated, regulated, or registered by some national or local body. Data for 20,000 of these comes from public open data sources – company filings, returns to the Charities Regulator, Revenue and others – which means Benefacts can provide a listing for each one on benefacts.ie.
Data for the remaining 12,000 – including half of the 400 affiliation and advocacy organisations discussed in this article – are derived from the published lists of Public Participation Network members in Ireland’s 31 local authority areas. These lists are not published under open data regulations, so their members are not listed on Benefacts.ie – with the exception of Fingal County Council/Fingal Public Participation Network, with which Benefacts has a data sharing agreement.
If you would like to see lists of the publicly available international affiliation, advocacy, business, or cultural organisations discussed in this article, contact us.
Because we began to collect this data in 2015, our database will serve as an indispensable record of the state of the nonprofit sector before, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. We have started to report on some of the key features of this changing picture here.
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At the end of July the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) wrote to say that they would provide no further funding for Benefacts after our current funding agreement expires on 31st December.
According to Minister Michael McGrath’s officials, the project “has met its initial policy rationale of assisting the development of a market for data on the nonprofit sector by stimulating demand from public bodies for such data”.
Despite our strenuous representations, DPER officials reconfirmed earlier this week that “this Department will not be providing further grants to Benefacts in 2021 following the expiration of the current Funding Agreement”. Accordingly the Board had no choice but to commence arrangements for winding up the company and terminating contracts including those with our 20 staff (15 full-time equivalents).