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  • Register deaths of Irish abroad, say campaigners

    Saturday, March 20th, 2010

    The law should be changed so that the deaths of Irish citizens who die abroad can be registered in Ireland, says a new movement that appears to be gaining rapid support online.

    A Facebook page called “Help bring them home” and an online petition were launched last week. Organisers say they were moved to do so by the deaths of two Galwaymen who died in accidents in the US in July:  21-year-old Keith O’Reilly, who died in Chicago in a swimming accident, and 27-year-old Keith Forde, who was killed in a fall from a New York hotel. Their deaths were only registered in the US, in keeping with current legislation; their families feel that they should be able to record the young men’s deaths through official channels at home as well.

    From the Facebook page:

    The 2004 Civil Registration Act covers the registration of births, stillbirths and deaths in relation to the Irish public.

    Under the current legislation the death of an Irish citizen who dies abroad is only recorded and registered in the Irish republic if they fall under one of the following categories:
    1) The death of a person on an Irish aircraft or an Irish ship
    2) The death of an Irish citizen on board any foreign ship or foreign aircraft in transit
    3) The death of a serving member of the Garda Síochána or the Irish Defence Forces

    What this means is that for the vast majority of Irish citizens who die abroad they never have that death recorded or registered back in their home country.

    Without the registration of that death back in Ireland it makes life far more difficult for the family members they leave behind. On top of this it means that future generations will find it extremely difficult to figure out what happened to their ancestors when they search through any Irish documentation.

    These people are not just statistics, they deserve the right to be recognised by their country even in death. It’s important we make this change now not only to help with the grieving process but also for future families who may have to go through this awful event.

    The movement has been gaining ground quickly. Launched on March 16, the Facebook group has already gathered over 1000 fans, and the petition has over 700 signatories. The group reports that they have received support from 23 TDs, including “2 government ministers, an Tánaiste, 4 opposition spokespersons, and the Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore.”

    Related links:

    No choice but to emigrate, young people tell Irish Times

    Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

    The Irish Times has carried a number of articles in the last week highlighting the perspectives of emigrants.

    On Friday, two young, recent emigrants wrote of their experiences. Paul Bradfield wrote that he is moving for an unpaid internship in The Hague, and hopes that employment will follow.

    Here are a few excerpts:

    I went not for the want of pleasure or enjoyment, nor to seek a “gap? year full of congenial experiences. The very term “gap? year implies that there is a distinct point in the future upon which the “gap? will be filled, whereupon one returns home to fulfil the innately human desire of carving out a career for oneself, or to simply settle into an agreeable existence in the place of one’s birth. Provided of course, you are able to return. Like many young Irish men and women who have gone before and will go after me, I go because I must.

    Witness the exodus. The lost generation is leaving. Moreover, judging by the demographic of attendees of recent emigration seminars held around the country, married couples with young children are also embarking upon the uncertain but now necessary voyage of emigration, to make a better life for themselves and their progeny. To Australia, Canada, the UK and Europe they are heading.

    Read the whole letter on the Irish Times website.

    A second young person, Sarah Moore, wrote that she was “disgusted at the recent comments on emigration by the Tanaiste Mary Coughlan”. Sarah is a university graduate with a higher diploma in nursing who reports that she has had several job offers from English hospitals. She says:

    I, a young person of 23, have recently moved to London to take up a job. And despite Ms Coughlan’s assertions about my generation, I did not move to enjoy myself. I left my family, my friends and all that I hold dear behind because I had to.

    I moved because my native country has nothing to offer me because of the self-interest, the naked greed, the croneyism of those in positions of power in Government and in financial institutions. These are the people who robbed a whole generation of a future in Ireland and they are still making the decisions about our country.

    Are we the most compliant nation on Earth, or what?

    Read the rest of the letter on the Irish Times website.

    And on Tuesday, a letter from an older emigrant echoed the themes of the two younger emigrants.  Tom Healy of Plymouth, England, emigrated in 1962 “not to enjoy myself but. . . to avoid a life of poverty in Ireland”. He says her comments “led me to reflect on how little the situation has changed since I boarded a flight at Dublin for Bristol.”

    I had left school two years before; my parents could not afford to put me through higher education. My future, for what it was worth, lay in a succession of low-paid, insecure jobs with plenty of bouts of unemployment in between. I wasted reams of paper and expended a small fortune on postage to make job applications that seldom elicited an acknowledgment, let alone an interview.

    In despair, I left for England, where I have lived and worked since. The leaving was difficult and painful. Fitting in took much effort, but eventually I adjusted to life here. For a few years I entertained the hope that I might be able to return and tried to do so, only to run up against the barriers which made people like me in the Ireland of the time unable to find work. I refer to the croneyism and insider relationships which plagued the Ireland of the time and appear never to have gone away. Those who achieved their place in the sun post-Independence had no time for those caught on the outside, for that would have required changes which might have reduced their influence and status and upset their cosy world.

    Emigration, I must tell Ms Moore, is as much an instrument of Government policy now as then, and as in the 19th century. Those of us who leave provide the safety- valve that allows the rotten shower in power to avoid having to create a more just and fair society.

    It might well be better to stay at home and raise hell to change the odiously corrupt system which existed when I was young and which seems to have changed but little in the almost 50 years since I left.

    Read the whole letter on the Irish Times website.

    This makes for bleak reading. It was only two years ago that Bertie Ahern was being lauded for putting an end to involuntary emigration. He himself regarded it as one of the key achievements of his administration, saying in his resignation speech:

    In looking back on all the things I wanted to achieve in politics, I am proud that as Taoiseach I have:

    – delivered on my objective to bring the peace process to fruition;
    – delivered on my objective to see a stable administration based on the power-sharing model take root in Northern Ireland;
    – delivered successive social partnership agreements which underpin our social and economic progress;
    delivered a modern economy with sustainable growth in employment and brought an end to the days of forced emigration;
    – delivered on my objective to improve and to secure Ireland’s position as a modern, dynamic and integral part of the European Union.

    What a difference two years makes.

    “That’s what young people are entitled to do”: Tanaiste on emigration

    Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

    Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan was questioned about emigration in a wide-ranging interview aired last night by BBC’s Hardtalk programme. Here is what she had to say:

    Questioner: For the first time in 15 or more years, there is net emigration in Ireland. Once again we see Irish people leaving this country leaving this country looking for work. How long? How long is that going to last?

    You have two things happening. We have had over – in the80s we had about a million people working. Two years ago, two and a half years ago, over 2.1 million people working. We have 1.8 million still working in this country.

    We did have a lot of people who came from the new member states to come here. Many of them have returned home because the employment opportunities have not been afforded to them.

    Equally we have a lot of people – young people- who have decided they will go to other parts of the world to gain experience and I think the type of emigration that we have –

    Questioner: But your government was supposed to have ended that, the whole cycle of Irish having to leave Ireland.

    It’s the type of people that have left have gone on the basis that – some of them, fine, they want to enjoy themselves. That’s what young people are entitled to do.

    But moreover, they are coming with a different talent. They are coming with degrees, PhDs.  They are people who have a greater acumen academically and they have found work in other parts of the world.

    And that’s not a bad thing. Because equally we still continue to have very many people who are working here from other member states, the EU and Northern Ireland.

    Related web pages:

    The budget, young people and emigration: the word from Twitter

    Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

    It was heartbreaking to watch the Twitter feed while listening to last week’s budget speech from Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. In the last decade, the government has done so much to redress the omissions of the past regarding Ireland’s relationship with the diaspora. Since the publication of the Task Force Report on Policy Regarding Emigration in 2002, the government has acknowledged its debt to our emigrants, established the Irish Abroad Unit, initiated a dramatic increase in funding to emigrant services, and has undertaken innovative projects such as the recent Global Irish Economic Forum at Farmleigh. There has been much reason to feel positive about the Irish government’s role in ending the involuntary emigration of years past, and to believe in its sincerity in addressing the many problems that beset Irish communities around the world as they tried to help aging or isolated emigrants and the undocumented in the US.

    All of these improvements of recent years, however, appear to be threatened by the current crisis and the recent upsurge of youth emigration. I have resisted believing any of the news reports suggesting that there is any possibility that anyone in any government department could be hoping for an increase in emigration so as to lower the unemployment rates.

    As I listened to Minister Lenihan’s speech, however, and read the accompanying Twitter feed, it was deeply unsettling to see how many times the word “emigration” was appearing in the tweets of young people’s responses to the budget. Whatever message was intended, many young people clearly interpreted it as a signal that their generation was to be the sacrificial offering to appease the gods of economic disaster.

    I copied as much as I could catch of the relevant postings. Here they are (unedited and uncensored):

    On job creation and the future

    Mark_Coughlan “Never again will our children, like our cattle, be raised for export”. Never until today. #Budget10

    Mark_Coughlan Well, there goes the majority of my qualified, intelligent, unemployed circle of friends to Canada/Australia. Cheers Brian.#Budget10

    robserver How exactly jobs are going to be created is quite unclear. Emigration it is, lads. I’m outta here on 1st July 2010. #budget10

    BreffniOS There is no incentive to create jobs or industry, no long term planning. Prepare for mass graduate emigration.

    gavreilly Sparing a thought for UCD students who went into exams at 3pm and come out at 5pm to the prospect of unavoidable emigration.

    murf61 @MickFealty I can see emigration numbers rising dramatically over the next 2-3 years

    KeithM #budget10 Emigration, Ireland’s only contribution to the World!

    mrsjotaylor well, there goes the youth *emigration#budget10

    danielshi @Padraig Emigration for me too. I wonder what percentage of people here are on the way out?

    RachelMorrogh Glad I’ll be in Canada before the influx of unemployed under-22s reaches those shores #budget10

    @IMJ_Ireland Young people of Ireland….time for the emigrant boat #budget10

    dlooney Lets be honest here – the Governmdnt WANT plenty of young ppl to fuck off and emigrate – it’s a safety valve. Won’t admit it tho #budget10

    laurak88 he’s not makin it very easy for young people who want to stay in ireland to do so-well done lads *mass exodus to the airport #budget10

    tvcritics It takes Brian Lenihan just 1/2 an hour to kick start mass emigration of the young #Budget10 fuck you Fianna Fáil

    itslauraduggan People get the hell out of Ireland while you can #budget10

    activedan I’ve got a plane ticket for Wales leaving first thing in the morning. i may not return! #budget10

    DiarmaidONeill well I look forward to emigrating once I graduate thanks for ruining Ireland for my generation -don’t tax the remittances though #budget10

    Kelly_McGrath I’m getting more and more tempted… RT @rebeccameehan#budget10 I wonder how many of my friends are going to leave the country…

    eoinbannon @donalmulligan We’re not all doomed to emigrate but some of us are.Maybe not tomorrow. But young people wont hang around long on €150 a week

    nightphaser On people calling for emigration in the face of policy: If the good ones leave, only the bad ones will remain to do as they please.

    GracieMcKenna #budget10 – it’s definitely time to think about emigrating!!! ‘The worst is over’… I think I’ll reserve judgement on that one!

    tpohare So, where’s everyone else planning on emigrating to? #budget10

    Belindamckeon so the choice for young people: emigrate or drink yourself into oblivion on cheaper booze. wahey! #budget10

    dlooney Rumours that maintenance grants will be down more than 5%. Less working class kids for college, more for emigration.#budget10

    robserver How exactly jobs are going to be created is quite unclear.Emigration it is, lads. I’m outta here on 1st July 2010. #budget10

    BreffniOS There is no incentive to create jobs or industry, no long term planning. Prepare for mass graduate emigration.

    stevedaley #budget10 is the most exemplary recipe for returning to the 1980s… Irish political elite have surrendered the goal of job creation. many of my friends are going to leave the country…

    On history

    Spaghettihoop So we raise our children as ship and plane-fodder. Again?#budget10

    Robbiecousins No jobs in this, at least the last Lenihan suggested sponsoring people to leave the country #budget10

    handelaar @twentymajor @markcoughlan The Dev Strategy. Deny expat voting, then force everyone who hates you to emigrate.

    @bioniclaura The emigration pressure valve is a tried and tested measure used down the years by our political classes.

    The Kennedy centre announcement

    thomasbrunkard Inauguration of President Kennedy probably proved that emigration was a great opportunity Brian. #Budget10

    niamhsmith @KeyboardCouch the Kennedys who had the good sense to emigrate, I might add! #budget10

    cormacflynn Ted Kennedy thing is laughable. We’ll be building monuments to other successful emigrants after this budget #budget10

    KatWaters Bet Alistair Darlings wishes he could have announced funding for a new theme park to highlight the opps that come with emigration. #budget10

    RealBLenihan He’s really setting up an Emigration Centre? Should come in handy. #budget10

    KeyboardCouch @niamhsmith and many more young people will be following their example thanks to this mess so maybe it’s fitting #budget10

    RosettaBroy RT @BandF: Stemming emigration would have been a better tribute to Ted Kennedy

    FieldNStream RT @Mimi_Mir Smoke & mirrors! Ireland is f*ck*d! Brutal attack on S.W.! Time 2 start swimming! & as for Ted Kennedy tribute-joke!

    Tax on the tax exiles

    CharteredAccIrl #budget10 radical new rules for ‘tax exiles’ – being Irish just got expensive!

    DiarmaidONeill well I look forward to emigrating once I graduate thanks for ruining Ireland for my generation -don’t tax the remittances though #budget10

    NooneCasey Farmleigh Levy – Irish domicile levy of €200k on Diaspora who came back to help! #budget10

    And the word from abroad…

    johnpaulfoxe I am so glad I don’t live in Ireland anymore! #budget10

    irishassoc recommends moving to winnipeg, canada #budget10

    irishassoc new Irish emigrants always welcomed warmly #budget10

    “I never thought I’d have to leave”, says 23-year-old London-based emigrant

    Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

    A quick, disturbing vignette excerpted from Olivia O’Leary’s “Viewpoint” article on the BBC website.

    For James Mooney, 23, and his generation, the crash is particularly galling.

    While Mr Mooney was studying to be a surveyor, his lecturer told them they would all be millionaires by the time they were 35, such was the construction and property boom at the time.

    Instead he is one of the new breed of Irish emigrants, living in a house in London with five other Irish people in their twenties, in a position none of them ever dreamed they would face.

    “Getting dropped back to Dublin airport, that’s when it hits home, that you’re leaving again,” says Mr Mooney.

    “Sunday nights, flying back to London. I dread it.

    “You see the same faces at the airport now. I never thought I’d have to leave.”

    Read Olivia O’Leary’s article on the BBC website – “Ireland: boom to bust”