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Two sides to the emigration debate

Is emigration a lifestyle choice as described by finance Minister Michael Noonan recently? This week The Irish Post hears what two Irish people living in Britain have to say on the issue.


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No, says publican Colm Lynch


Colm Lynch, 39 is a London publican at The Hop Pole in Wandsworth. He’s originally from Kilberry, Co. Meath and currently lives in south London


For something to be a choice you have to have one. A lot of Irish people living here now don’t, so I can’t see how Michael Noonan can call emigration a lifestyle choice.

There is work in Britain and there’s very little in Ireland. That doesn’t leave much choice.

When I came here in 1995, I did so for reasons of work. I said I’d give it a couple of years, but things went well so I stayed.

There were plenty of times when I was happy to consider a future here, London is a great town, with lots of things to do and plenty of choice.

But I’m definitely going home to Ireland now more than I ever did, about half a dozen times a year to see family.

I would like to think there would at least be the work option of a permanent move at some point in the future.

Lots of Irish people come into the pub. Some of the younger ones definitely made a choice to leave based on a desire to go abroad.

But there is a difference between going away for a year and then having to stay put because you there aren’t employment opportunities in Ireland.

There are other Irish people who are very happy to be living here and will be so into the future. It’s probably a 50-50 split.

From dealing with lots of Irish customers over the years, which country to live in becomes much bigger when people are considering starting a family.

In my experience, the popular opinion would be that quality of family life is better in Ireland than it is in Britain and I’d agree with that, if there is work.

London is a great place to live and there are plenty of people I know who are happy to be here. But they would also like to think they will have the opportunity to live in Ireland in the future.

This is a choice Irish people here don’t have at the moment.


Yes, says media manager Emily Horgan


Emily Horgan, 28, works as a media manger in west London and also runs an Irish themed radio show called What’s the Craic on ONFM in Hammersmith. Originally from Malahide in Co, Dublin, she now lives in Battersea London.

The way Michael Noonan’s comments have been portrayed, they definitely comes across as incredibly insensitive.

They also create a basic management bumbling frontage to top level Government – that the Taoiseach and Finance Minister would be making conflicting comments.

If something like this happened in a commercial business, example the CEO and Finance director made conflicting comments about lay-offs, one of them would have their head served to them by HR!

However, when I got over the natural (possibly Irish?) impulse to take umbrage, and thought about what he said I have to say there’s more than a grain of truth in this.

As a 20-something I have plenty of friends who have left perfectly good jobs in Ireland to go travelling and see South America, Asia, with long haul stays in Australia.

They didn’t do it because of the economy, they did it to fulfil personal objectives.

To be honest we often paint London/Australia/Canada as the golden geese in terms of jobs, but in my own experience of trying it in Canada (didn’t get a job beyond a bar job), and London (had to initially take a massive pay cut) this perception is not always true.

In addition to this, my friends’ experiences are similar, not all got good jobs in Australia, certainly not all got sponsored to stay out there.

Only the ones who were really career-minded in the first place.  That holds true for London.

I have one friend who was recently looking at taking a massive pay cut to move over here from Dublin.  Another friend was working over here and was laid off.

I have to say when I look around my driven, clued in friends back home, some have been laid off, but they’ve gone out and gotten themselves new jobs, and kept extremely busy in the interim, be by doing painting/babysitting/etc.

I also look at friends back home who are long term unemployed, but I know myself they are ultimate messers, some of them have proven that by being unemployed in Dublin, London, Melbourne and New York.

Once you get over the insensitive manner in which Minister Noonan made these comments, and really ask yourself, you have to see the truth.

Definitely some people may be leaving even though they don’t want to, because of jobs.  But there is a definite percentage that would have left anyway, and are using this a double reason to go and see the world.

Personally I would like to move back to Ireland, though would worry about job prospects in my career area.

Having said that, this week I have seen the first job in Ireland in three-and-a-half years of living in London that I would consider moving home for.”



Irish Post

The Irish Post is the biggest-selling weekly newspaper for the Irish in Britain and the voice of the Irish community since 1970. Follow the Irish Post on Twitter @theirishpost

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