TUV leader Jim Allister says that the ‘EU’s open door immigration policy’ is having a massive impact on Northern Ireland.
And the North Antrim MLA sought to illustrate his point by using figures from the health budget which show that £8000 of health service funds is going on paying interpreters every day, giving an annual cost of almost £3 million.
In the Northern Health and Social Care Trust area which covers Ballymena and district, the cost was £435,605 in the past year.
Through assembly questions, the TUV leader has also established that 5% of pupils in Northern Ireland schools do not have English as their first language, with the percentage topping 10% in South Belfast and 9.5% in Fermanagh & South Tyrone. In North Antrim this translated to 727 pupils or 3.6% overall.
In some areas of the county such as Ballymena which has witnessed a particularly high number of immigrants in recent years, this figure is likely to be much higher.
Mr. Allister said: “In a climate of spates of racist criminal attacks - which must be met with the full rigour of the law - it is difficult sometimes to draw attention to issues of which the public need to be aware.
“These figures graphically illustrate the impact of the EU’s open door immigration policy within this part of the UK. In the debate about immigration we seldom hear of the ancillary costs in education and health, but, plainly, they are huge, even in the incidentals of providing interpreters in our hospitals.
“The face of several constituencies is changing dramatically, with South Belfast, Fermanagh & South Tyrone and Upper Bann having in or about 10% of schoolchildren not having English as their first language.
“The geographical correlation between health spend on interpreters and high levels of immigrant children in our schools is obvious with the Southern Health Trust spending £1.3m per annum on interpreters.
“Migration has been a feature of life for centuries, but hitherto nation states have exercised control through operating the immigration policy suited to their needs. But not anymore, because now the EU controls our immigration policy and operates a completely open door policy across Europe. Hence, the disproportionate upsurge in westward migration and the resulting pressures on our health, welfare and education budgets. It is only outside the EU that the UK can reassert control over its immigration policy.”