Dungannon holds the record for the greatest change in racial make-up of any UK council in the last decade, new figures suggest.
The revelation is part of a number-crunching exercise by Oxford University, which shows the tally of “international migrants” – those born outside the UK or Republic – tripled between 2001 and 2011 for the Province as a whole.
In 2011, the total usual resident population of Northern Ireland stood at just over 1.8 million residents. About 4.5 per cent of those residents (81,314) were born outside of the UK and the Republic.
Most were from Poland (19,658 residents), with Lithuania (7,341) and India (4,796) the next most popular countries of origin.
A more detailed look indicates that Dungannon leads the entire UK in terms of such ethnic change.
In the east Tyrone town, international migrants grew from 484 in 2001 to almost 6,000 in 2011.
This is an increase of 1,139 per cent.
The Lincolnshire town of Boston saw a 467 per cent increase in its “foreign born” population over the same period; the biggest in England, Scotland or Wales.
The huge growth in Dungannon’s international migrants meant that by 2011 they made up about 10 per cent of the population.
However, this is still below the average figure in the mainland UK, where 12.8 per cent of residents were classed as foreign-born.
Patrick Yu, executive director of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities, said: “The increase in population in Dungannon shows its vibrancy as a prosperous area of Northern Ireland,” noting employers like Moy Park rely on large numbers of minority workers.
Racist attacks have been much in the news recently, and Mr Yu added: “Research shows that migrants put much more into the economy than they take out, and bring diversity, vibrancy and prosperity to Northern Ireland.
“Any attack on ethnic minorities is akin to an attack on the economy, to which they contribute so much for wider society.”
The figures all come from the 2011 Census, and look at every local government authority in the UK.
In addition, the Oxford report cautions against making direct comparisons between Northern Ireland’s proportion of international migrants and the proportion of those defined as foreign-born in the mainland UK, where citizens of the Irish Republic are included in the numbers.