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    President visits Irish in England

    Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

    President Mary McAleese visited with the Irish community in Britain  over the past two days. Her visit included a tour of the 20120 Olympic site in East London, which afforded her an opportunity to talk to the Irish construction workers employed there.

    Out of the 9,000 workers on the site, 10% are Irish, according to an RTE report. The president said:

    ‘This very exciting project is proving very beneficial to Ireland on many levels, first of all, as you know, the construction industry in Ireland has come to a bit of a stand still and there are a lot of people looking for opportunities outside Ireland. Many of them have found those opportunities here, builders, surveyors, project managers, architects and anybody involved in the construction business hoping to get work here.

    ‘Evidence of the Irish contribution here is all around, the names on many of the hoardings are very very familiar, all associated with the Irish construction sector, I am very proud that 10% of the work force here is Irish. They are involved in everything from lifting the blocks to major architectural projects. That’s very good news. That’s at the construction phase, and then there is the fit out phase.

    ‘That’s a very important element for us in terms of supplying goods and services. I was talking to one contractor this morning who bringing in cladding from north of Dublin. A good example of work being generated and opportunities being generated back in Ireland thanks to the Oympic site.’

    During her visit, Ms McAleese also visited the Irish Centre in Reading. In London, she met the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas and the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain, as well as the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith.

    Related websites:

    The Irish In Britain: UCD John Hume Institute, 23 Nov. 2009

    Saturday, July 25th, 2009

    The Irish Diaspora conferences that took place in New York in 2007 and Dublin in 2008 will be followed up in 2009 with a London event. The John Hume Institute for Irish Studies has announced the preliminary schedule for “The Irish in Britain: A Conversation with the Diaspora”, which will be held at the Royal Society in London on Monday, 23 November, 2009.

    Organisers say:

    In 2007 we started a conversation with the Irish Diaspora with an event in New York.  1000 people came along and participated in a lively, informative and entertaining debate.  Last year we brought the discussion to Dublin and this year we would like to continue that spirit of lively interaction with the Irish in Britain.  This special event takes as its premise that lasting transformations within Ireland and of Irish Society, whether political, cultural, social or economic have been shaped and informed by the Irish abroad.  This event is about exploring that proposition by looking at three significant issues in our relatively recent past and drawing on the strands arising from that exploration to inform and frame an open floor discussion on the Irish in Britain today and tomorrow.

    One curious thing about the programme as it has been initially released is that there seems to be a lack of involvement of the Irish in Britain as speakers, but perhaps that will be rectified by the time the final lineup is announced.

    Outline Programme
    08:30 a.m. Registration

    09:00 a.m. Welcome: Hugh Brady, President of UCD

    09:15 a.m.
    Session One: Towards 2016

    This session takes as its theme the notion of the Irish abroad as the significant engine of political change. Contributions will look at the influence of the “Irish” cities of Britain and America on the formation of key figures involved in 1916 and the years that followed, the role of the Irish abroad in the formation and sustaining of a republican movement, the relationships between the new state and the Irish abroad and the consequences of the legacies of historic events and their commemoration for the present and future generations.

    Participants will include Mary Daly, Diarmaid Ferriter, Michael Kennedy and Bob Schmuhl

    10:30 a.m. Coffee

    11:00 a.m.
    Session Two: Joyc(e)ity

    The theme of this session will be the Diaspora as creative impulse. In particular contributions will explore aspects of the Aesthetic of Exile, Joyce and the contribution of the Irish to “Modernism” and the phenomenon of a diaspora of cultural artefacts.

    Participants will include Luca Crispi, Anne Fogarty, Declan Kiberd, and Frank McGuinness

    12:30 a.m. Lunch

    2:00 p.m.
    Session Three: Ties That Bind

    The session will explore cultural branding, identity and social cohesion in Britain and Ireland.  It will take as a starting point two iconic identifiers of “Irishness”, the GAA and Guinness, both of whom celebrate milestone anniversaries in 2009

    Participants will include Cormac O’Grada and Paul Rouse

    3:00 p.m. Coffee

    3:30 p.m.
    Session Four: What does the future hold for Ireland and its Diaspora?

    An open floor discussion will be led by a special guest panel.

    5.00 p.m. Closing remarks: Hugh Brady

    7:30 for 8:00 The Forum will be followed by a dinner and the presentation of The John Hume Medal

    Related webpages:

    New Irish in London face hard times, says paper

    Monday, March 23rd, 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.

    State checking on pensioners abroad

    Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

    The Department of Social and Family Affairs is contacting 8,000 pensioners abroad to ensure they are still alive, the Irish Times reports today.

    There are 35,000 people living outside of Ireland who receive the contributory pension, according to the paper; the contributory pension is made to eligible people 66 or over who have paid social insurance PSRI contributions. The pension amounts to €223 per week, with more if the recipient has an adult dependent.

    There are a total of 237,000 recipients of this pension, with 14% of them living abroad. Most of those recipients abroad live in the UK, the US, and Canada. As these countries do not automatically alert Irish authorities when an Irish citizen dies, the Department is concerned that welfare payments may be made to people who have died. Officials are contacting 8,000 recipients they feel may have passed away or who no longer have an adult dependent.

    One thousand circulars were distributed last month, for the first phase of the “life certification project”. If there is no response within a period of time, the payments will be stopped; they will be reinstated, however, if someone is taken off the list but is still alive.

    Read the full story (registration required).

    Around Europe with RTE medium wave: listener feedback

    Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

    The following comments are among those Ean has received regarding medium wave reception in the UK and Europe. RTE’s Radio 1 is available throughout the UK and as far away as Belgium.

    Sincere thanks for sending me the latest news on the proposed withdrawal by RTE of the medium wave radio service which is still the only way a huge number of people living Northern Ireland, the UK and the near Continent have of tuning in to RTE radio.
    I had first hand experience of the problem just last week when I was away in London and Louvain (Belgium). In both locations the only way I could access RTE.1 was on 565KHz Medium wave. 252KHz Long wave was impossible to hear in both places,nothing but a loud buzz of interference. And I always carry with me when I go to the UK or the Low Countries a small but powerful SONY Receiver.

    John Connors, MCC

    On Saturday night, 23 February, I had cause to visit Ballymena in Co Antrim. I was tuned to RTE Radio One on FM on the way north from Mayo. It was okay to Omagh but coming close to Cookstown, the signal began to break-up. I tried the usual range but to no effect.

    I then decided to switch over to 567 kHz for the rest of the journey through Moneymore, Maherafelt, Toome and on to Ballymena. I don’t have longwave on the car radio so the mediumwave was the only way I could access RTE in that region. Reception was very good.

    I have found RTE mediumwave to be very handy for its separate sports coverage on Saturday evenings and this service will be lost to many people who travel by cars in all parts of the country, and across the Irish Sea in the UK, if the mediumwave transmitter is shut down. It is a very regrettable decision and one that I hope is reversed as soon as possible so that commonsense can prevail.
    Michael Commins, Mayo News and Mid West Radio.

    I can comfirm that at 10.00pm this evening (18 February 2008) the signal here in Fareham Hampshire on 567 was solid, no interferance or noise, and at the same volume control setting twice as loud as 252 the latter was also very noisy.
    Keith Randall

    I’m listening right now to Lillian playing some great oldies on RTE 1 on both 567 and 252 … the 252 audio is a second or so behind the 567 audio.
    I’m in Gerrards Cross in south Bucks, which is just west of London.
    The 567 signal is slightly stronger than the 252 signal, but both are very adequate. The signal strength meter on the radio says 567 is stronger, but you don’t hear the difference.
    Both channels have some other stations co-channel, but neither has any great problem. My aerial is beaming west at about 290 degrees from here so anything to the south east is at a disadvantage anyway.
    The biggest difference though is the quality of the audio. 567 sounds a lot better than 252. There must be some different audio processing going on. 567 has a better audio range, less bass, more mid-range and top end. 252 sounds almost clipped, a lot of bass and quite harsh.
    So I reckon 567 is by far the nicer to listen to.
    Mark Hattam

    I am the author of the Euro-African Medium Wave Guide ( and I am an occasional listener of RTE.
    When I want to listen to RTE Radio 1 after sunset here in Flanders, it is impossible to do so on 252 kHz as the Algerian transmitter on the same frequency is dominant.
    567 kHz is a good alternative on which RTE is the dominant station. Although reception is not free of interference, the programmes are well audible on the medium wave frequency.

    Herman Boell

    Seeking “Over Here” video

    Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

    We’ve had a request for the video “Over Here”, which was produced by Emigrant Advice some time ago. The Crosscare Migrant Project (formerly Emigrant Advice) no longer has a copy. If you or your organisation has a copy, perhaps you might let me know at

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