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    New Irish in London face hard times, says paper

    By Noreen Bowden | March 23, 2009

    The Irish Times has carried a bleak article on recent Irish arrivals in London. Reporter Carl O’Brien points out the dramatic change that has occurred with the downturn:

    For many younger people, the maudlin emigration songs with their tales of yearning and aching loneliness felt like stories from a distant era. Suddenly, they don’t feel so remote anymore. As the shutters are pulled down on job opportunities at home, the harsh prospect of having to find work abroad is all too real for thousands of young people.

    This statement is from 29-year-old who has left his four-year-old behind in Portlaoise and now working 12-hour shifts six or seven days a week:

    “You miss home, you miss your family, you miss your friends. I was training a soccer team at home. Every time I ring my son, it’s, ‘are you collecting me today, Daddy’, so that’s tough. Any chance I get to go home, I take it to try and see him and the family. With the job here, though, it’s hard to know when you’ll be free.?

    The article highlights a few reasons to be optimistic about this generation of emigrants. Today’s young people tend to be better educated and more confident than in the past. Danny Maher, chief executive of Cricklewood Homeless Concern told the paper,

    “I think this is a totally different group of people. This generation is better able to adapt and they’re more globally-minded. If someone is in a vulnerable position, through drink or drugs or whatever, this is the last place they should be . . . These days, the Irish are more likely to be in the wealthier suburbs – they don’t need safety in numbers anymore. That can only be a positive thing.?

    Local GAA clubs report that they are assisting people with jobs and contacts, while the London Irish Centre in Camden reports getting four or five people a week in need of emergency assistance. Peter Hammond says,

    “In the old days you could just turn up at a construction site looking for ‘the start’. Those days are gone. You need accreditation, training, national insurance numbers.

    “We always had a trickle of vulnerable people with drink or drug problems here during the boom. But now there are jobless people ending up homeless or in need of emergency support. We have a fund for repatriations. I’d say we’re putting someone on a Ryanair flight back to Ireland on a weekly basis.?

    Read the article on the Irish Times website: Hard times for Irish in London.

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