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    Irish in Britain Seminar: London, May-June 2009

    Monday, May 11th, 2009

    The Irish Studies Centre at London Metropolitan University is hosting their annual “Irish in Britain Seminar Series”.The series is is an informal opportunity for any interested in engaging with current issues and research about the Irish in Britain.

    • Tuesday 26 May, Prof Bronwen Walter, Anglia Ruskin University
      Fictional Irish Presences in English Diaspora Space: a Social Science Exploration
    • Tuesday 2 June, Dr Ann Rossiter
    • “Hidden Histories: The Irish ‘Abortion Trail’ and the Undercover Support Network within the London-Irish Community
    • Wednesday 10 June, Dr Nicole McLennan, London Metropolitan University
      Irish Connections: London’s County Associations
    • Tuesday 16 June, Dr Reg Hall
      Researching the Irish in Britain: Methodological Approaches

    For more information:

    Irish in Britain Seminar Series 2009

    US news report highlights disillusionment of returned emigrants

    Monday, March 9th, 2009

    The disillusionment of Irish emigrants who moved back home to take part in Ireland’s booming economy has been featured in on the CBS Evening News in the US.

    The three emigrants profiled include Brendan Landers, who wrote of his disappointment after returning from Canada in the Irish Times last month. He said that his website got over 7,000 hits after the article appeared. Of his fellow returned emigrants, he said, “what they’d been feeling is basically a disappointment with our country”.

    Ed Neale returned from Holland, where he was studying architecture, but returned to find the jobs had dried up. “It was really a blip in the nation’s history,” he said. “You know, we are traditionally a very poor country. We’re a nation of emigrants and those times are coming back.”

    Marina Giblin gave up her job in banking in San Francisco to raise her four-year-old daughter near family in Dublin. “The reality of it is we partied very hard and we forgot there would be a hangover.” When asked if she’d leave again, Giblin replied, “If I have to go, I’ll go. Yeah, I will.”

    Watch the video:

    See more on the CBS news website.

    “North by North West”: U of Ulster, 3-6 Sept 2009

    Monday, March 9th, 2009

    The Institute of Ulster Scots Studies has issued the following call for papers:

    North by North West:  An International Conference
    3rd -6th Sept 2009

    Description: We invite proposals for papers exploring themes that will examine the Maritime history of Ulster from 1599-2009 focusing in particular the Port of Derry/Londonderry as a ‘Gateway to the Atlantic’. The conference will be hosted by the Institute of Ulster Scots Studies.

    The themes of the conference are Environmental & Archaeological history, Military & Port Fortifications of Loughs Foyle & Swilly, Merchants & Traders in 18th & 19th century Ulster & Scotland, Ulster & the Atlantic World, Shipbuilders & Shipping Lines, From Here to  Wherever, emigration from NorthWest Ulster.

    Paper proposals should indicate under which theme they wish to
    be considered. Conference proceedings will be published.

    Conference organisers
    : Sally Halliday M.Phil & Dr Billy Kelly

    Venue: University of Ulster, Magee Campus

    Contact: Sally Halliday at

    Tel: 02871375098

    Sally Halliday M.Phil
    Institute of Ulster Scots Studies
    Room MI021
    Aberfoyle House
    Northland Road
    BT48 9JL

    Submission date for papers: 18th May 2009

    Let diaspora return, says Irish-America

    Friday, May 9th, 2008

    Two pleas from Irish America calling for changes to make it easier for the diaspora to come to Ireland were published in the last week.

    In the first, Rose Foley of Boston writes in the Irish Times that she has sought for the last eleven years to find a way to work in Ireland – but her status as a fourth-generation Irish-American prevents her from doing so.  She is one generation removed from eligibility for citizenship, so her only option would be to get sponsorship through employment – but she has found that she cannot find work without a visa and cannot get a visa without a job. And since any employer would have to prove that no one in the EU could do the job before she could be hired, this avenue is not likely to lead to success.

    Invoking David McWilliams’ recent call for Ireland to welcome back its diaspora for the sake of its economic growth, and in recognition of their “deep, vested interest in our culture”, she says, “The time has come to welcome us back.”

    The second request to open the doors to the diaspora appeared in a letter to the editor from an Irish emigrant living in Philadelphia.  Cian de Buitleir has an Irish-American partner who is not eligible for citizenship, and notes that he has met many Irish-Americans who have strong interest in Irish culture, history and the language.  He says, “India offers its diaspora recognition, residency and work permits through the ‘Person of Indian Origin’ (PIO) card,” and suggests that Ireland would benefit both economically and culturally by giving the diaspora a route to move to Ireland.

    The next time that you hear a call for legalising the Irish in America or for a united Ireland, maybe you should reflect on whether we should first undo the hypocrisy of Irish immigration law and simply reunite the Irish, because charity begins at home.

    These people will fortify the Irish economy.

    These are no longer the ‘poor huddled masses’, these are the people who built nations.

    Now is the time to take a leap of faith and offer tangible immigration benefits through ‘affirmative action’ to the Irish diaspora.

    The letter has prompted dozens of comments on the Irish Independent website.

    See the two articles:

    Member’s Query: Exemption from Irish

    Thursday, May 8th, 2008

    We’ve had a query from one of our member groups regarding the exemption from the Irish language.  This is an issue that may affect those who are returning to Ireland with school-aged children.

    The Department of Education has a document outlining who may be exempted and the procedure for granting an exemption.  The part that is applicable to returning emigrant children is as follows:

    Pupils in the following circumstances may be allowed to substitute any other subject from the list of approved subjects for Irish for the purpose of Rule 21 (1) (a) and (b):-

    (a) Pupils whose primary education up to 11 years of age was received in Northern Ireland or outside Ireland;

    (b) Pupils who were previously enrolled as recognised pupils in a primary or second-level school who are being re-enrolled after a period spent abroad, provided that at least three years have elapsed since the previous enrolment in the State and the pupil is at least 11 years of age on re-enrolment;

    The document gives the procedure for getting an exemption as well, which begins with a parent or guardian submitting a written application to the principal.

    The document does note, however, that “[t]he second-level programme in Irish both current and planned has the capacity to cater for a wide diversity of ability”, so it seems to encourage parents to consider whether studying Irish may be suitable for their children.

    See the Department of Education’s document on exemption from Irish.

    On a related note, NY-born comedian Des Bishop, recently impressed TV viewers with his attempts to learn Irish for his RTE TV programme, “In the Name of the Fada”. Des came over to Ireland from NY as a teenager and has been making a name for himself as a keen observer of Irish life. He is now touring Ireland with a comedy show in Irish called “Teanga”.

    See more about “In the Name of the Fada” and watch the show on the RTE website.

    Gay couples want to return: Irish Times

    Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

    An American researcher has said that recognising same-sex partnerships would allow Ireland to reap economic benefits by increasing the number of well-educated returnees. Currently, Ireland does not recognise gay relationships and its immigration law does not allow for Irish citizens to bring their non-marital partners with them if they move home.

    Gary Gates, a senior research fellow at the Williams Institute in UCLA, says that there are at least 1,173 same-sex couples in the US that include an Irish partner. He found most Irish people in a US-based same-sex partnership are women, highly educated, and with an average age of 40.  One in seven are raising children.

    Gates told the Irish Times that more than 40% have a college education, as compared to an average of 30% for other Irish immigrants in the US. He says:

    In that sense, you’re getting some level of economic benefit. But I actually think that the bigger benefits come in terms of the fact that Ireland is an economy that has quite a few global companies that need to be able to move their personnel around easily across national borders.

    I think that legal recognition, at least for one section of their employees, for gay and lesbian people . . . both in a very practical way but also as a signal to employers that says, ‘we’re making this as easy as we can for you and this is just one obstacle we’re taking out of your way,’ I think all of that has positive economic benefits.

    The Times article, written by Denis Staunton, also highlighted the situation of American Annie Rogers and Irish-born ?de O’Carroll, a couple in their 50s who are finding it difficult to plan for their retirement move from Amherst, Massachusetts to Lismore, Co. Waterford, where they own a home. Annie can only stay for three months at a time.  The couple got married in Massachusetts in 2005 but their relationship is not recognised in Ireland. ?de says,

    We are in some respects inhibited from having the kind of life we want to have by the sort of immigration legislation that’s in place because of the nature of our same-sex marriage and relationship. Were we heterosexual, we could both be dual citizens and navigate both places freely and choose to live where we want.

    ?de also noted her belief that Irish society is more ready for recognising gay partnerships than politicians believe:

    My experience in Ireland has been very, very positive, as somebody who works as an ‘out’ person, with family and friends living in a small town in Ireland. So I think it’s a question of the politicians not reading the climate of change in a way that I think that they should.

     Read the entire article (subscription required).

    See Ean’s factsheet on the issue of gay partnerships and return migration.

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