You are here: Home > News & Events > The impacts of Covid-19 on ethnic minority and migrant groups in Ireland—new paper from NESC Secretariat

The impacts of Covid-19 on ethnic minority and migrant groups in Ireland—new paper from NESC Secretariat


The Covid-19 pandemic tends to worsen existing disadvantage experienced by migrants and ethnic minorities in Ireland.   This is one of the findings in a new Secretariat Working Paper from the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). While the experience of different migrant and ethnic minority groups varies, some outcomes are clear. For example, migrant children tend to have poorer reading skills than Irish children, and the closure of schools is likely to worsen this. Migrant families on average have lower incomes than Irish families, and so can face greater difficulty affording broadband and ICT devices to access remote learning. Migrant parents may not be familiar with the Irish school curriculum, and face difficulties home-schooling their children in a foreign language.

A higher proportion of non-Irish nationals are living in rented rather than owner-occupied accommodation. Rental accommodation is more crowded than owner-occupied property, leading to less space for self-isolation.  This also creates difficulties for renters trying to work and attend education from home.  “Travellers are the most likely to live in over-crowded accommodation, and some Traveller sites do not have running water, leading to difficulties adhering to Covid-19 hygiene advice”, said Órlaith Hennessy, main author of the working paper.

In addition, ethnic minority and migrant women may be particularly affected by the increase in domestic violence during lockdowns, as they already account for a disproportionate number of domestic violence service users.

“Travel restrictions also have a strong impact on non-Irish nationals with family abroad, particularly where there have been deaths or other significant events in the family since the pandemic began”, said Dr Anne-Marie McGauran of NESC today.

The Government has put in place a range of supports, availed of by both Irish and non-Irish nationals, to deal with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. These include income support payments, eviction freezes, and increased funding for a range of services. Ongoing/ further analysis of the exact impacts of Covid-19 on migrants and ethnic minorities can help to pinpoint policy responses to support their particular needs.

This new report is part of a series of Covid-19 Working Papers.

Read the full report here.

Note to Editors

The working paper was posted on the NESC Website, on January 13th 2021.

For further information please contact Anne-Marie McGauran,


t:  +353-1-814 6365