EMPLOYERS are importing thousands of workers for ordinary jobs from outside the EU, despite record unemployment levels here.
The number of non-EU workers being hired has surged to more than 6,600 so far this year, new figures show.
Workers from outside Ireland and the EU are being hired for jobs on farms, in hotels, restaurants, bars, nursing homes, takeaways, insurance companies, pharmacies and leisure centres.
A large number of the workers are also employed in nursing homes, with permits also issued for workers in guesthouses.
The surge in numbers comes despite rules that insist companies can only hire overseas if they can't get the staff at home or in the EU. The number of people signing on the dole here is just under 450,000.
The figures will raise serious questions about why companies are so desperate for foreign workers -- and whether it is because they are often cheaper and non-unionised.