In a country where emigration has traditionally been a feature of everyday life, immigration is now being encouraged.  If the economy is to reach projected growth targets, more than 200,000 foreign workers will be needed.

The six year National Development Plan sets out a requirement for 270,000 workers, 200,000 of which will come from abroad, resulting in an estimated immigration figure of 360,000 people. This raises a whole host of social and economic issues that require clarification and legislation.

This report features Roberto Gregori a Romanian butcher who is working at a meat plant outside Navan, Co. Meath. Roberto claims he was being exploited by an employment agent, who he has subsequently shaken off after continuing to demand 10% of his wages for placing him in a job.

Reporter Peter Cluskey comments "Roberto's is just one story - one of countless scores. The common threads are exploitation, discrimination, racism to a greater or lesser degree. Fuel to warn employers and unions alike by the lack of a coherent national immigration policy."

Cluskey describes Irish immigration as a major "challenge to the Irish psyche" accustomed to emigration from the coffin ships of famine times right through to the economic migrants of the 1980's.

The number of work permits issued has risen from 6,200 in 1999 to a conservative estimate of at least 30,000 for 2001.

Peter Cluskey talks to Jackie Harrison, Director of Social Affairs at IBEC (Irish Business and Employers Federation) and Mike Jennings of SIPTU (Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union). Harrison feels there is scope for a more skilled approach to immigration to make sure that immigrants are looked after. Mike Jennings argues that immigrants are not commodities and are people with rights and needs. Both Harrison and Jennings recognise the need for a more holistic approach to immigration.

The report also features immigrants, Erkan Soykan from Turkey and Joanna Mierzyewska from Poland. Angela Carr of French and Associates describes the cumbersome red-tape that is required in the work permit application process.