#Emigration #Immigration #IrelandIsFull #WeCantTakeAnyMore #Refugees #MigrantWorkers #AsylumSeekers #Racism #MythsAndReality
Today a very interesting piece was published in the Irish Times. Called “Government ‘needs to be honest’ with emigrants, says Joe McHugh”, it is an eye opener
Minister of State for the Diaspora Joe McHugh’s words have important messages about emigration and immigration. You can read them following the links below…
“The previous government created the #HomeToWork social media and poster campaign over Christmas as part of Fine Gael’s commitment to attract 70,000 Irish emigrants back by 2020.”
“There is a target figure of 70,000 that we are hoping to bring back (by 2020).”
Interesting, isn’t it?
Sometimes we forget things which we shouldn’t. The previous and current governments running an ad campaign to attract 70,000 Irish emigrants back by 2020 is in fact an interesting development.
What does it tells us?
Of course, people who may have emigrated due to unemployment, job losses etc., to have chance and the economic conditions to come back to Ireland would be great. By all means, reverse the reasons and effects of forced emigration and welcome people back to their homes.
But, people are not machines. Emigration is not a simple matter of packing your bags and jumping on a plane. It takes a lot of painful thinking and planning, especially if you have a family and children… One leaves Ireland as an ‘emigrant’ and within couple of hours you become an ‘immigrant’. As an immigrant you face all sorts of new challenges. Like the immigrants in Ireland do. You start a new life and do your best to settle in your new country. Like the immigrants in Ireland do.
The minister implicitly admits - yes, I am reading between the lines - Irish people don’t go away simply there are free mobile phones or super generous social welfare payment in another country. They go because life provides them with opportunities or threats. Sometimes both at the same time... Same is true for immigrants in Ireland.
But people are not machines. Once you emigrate it is not always easy or even possible to drop everything and come back. The yearning for your previous home and the realities of your current home get all entangled… They call it the homesickness… In many cases, you could go back but you won’t because it is not a simple matter of just wanting or being homesick…
The previous government – obviously – wanted 70,000 workers in Ireland. The new government wants to do so as well, even if little bit more cautiously so…
Is this not an admission of “inward migration is good and it is much needed”? Yes, it is.
According to the government Ireland needs new and more workers…
Minister is right when he says “Do we just ask them to come back and everything will be grand? I think we need to be honest about the barriers that are there, and try to address them,”
Ireland needs people, but there are issues.
OK, let’s address them.
HOUSING? Yes, let’s deal with the housing crisis. Why is the government not doing so? Let’s have houses for people in urgent need and future generations of this country.
UNEMPLOYMENT and JOB CREATION? Yes. How about running the economy to create jobs instead of letting jobs go?
CHILDCARE and OTHER PUBLIC SERVICES?Yes. How about reversing the cuts in these areas? A lot of young migrants and returning Irish will consider the life quality here and the public social services. Many may want to have a family…
I am not an economist. I am sure if the political will is there the resources in this country will be sufficient to do these good things.
But, there is something disturbing noticeable in what the Minister says:
“Gaps were emerging in certain sectors such as science and engineering, and people with the relevant skills were the ones Ireland needed to attract home […] the majority of Irish people who emigrated in recent times were highly educated and highly skilled, and they should be asked what their wants and needs are if they were looking to move home.”
So, some Irish people are welcomed back to Ireland, and some are not. Depending on their skills and qualifications it seems some are more wanted ‘Irish’ than the others.
Between the lines what the Minister is simply implied that “anyone who is not ‘skilled’ enough, should be left abroad be some other country’s problem”.
He needs to understand one thing: A growing economy needs huge diversity of skills and abilities. You don’t open restaurants by just hiring highly qualified chefs
Nonetheless, overall, aren’t all of these statements an admission of
· Ireland is not overwhelmed by incoming migration…
· Ireland needs more workers… It is good for the country…
· Ireland can and should take more people in…
· Ireland has issues but these are to do with political choices of the government and these can be addressed…
Anyone with an emigrant in their family will know, dropping all and coming back is not that simple. Just because Ireland needs you it doesn’t mean you need Ireland or you can easily come back. Especially, if you have settled in your new environment, if your kids are going to school, if you bought a house, if you have a good job etc… you may never return to Ireland.
Given the need, the opportunities and all the good things the government wants for the economy of this country, there are other things that that can be done
1. There are 5000 people in Direct Provision System with different skills and abilities. These people have been in the country for many years, all waiting in DPS centres without the right to residency and work. Why not - as many times called for before - normalise the statuses of asylum seekers and allow them to settle in this country as workers / students? Why not make use of their skills? Good for the country, good for the people.
2. It seems Ireland is happy and confident that 70,000 people coming back will not be a problem. But given the reality Ireland will not fill this quota that easily… It looks like when it comes to it, housing and unemployment are not show-stopper issues for inward immigration. How about those long promised refugees, which still have to be invited to this country. How about letting them to come to Ireland and start a new life, along with returning Irish. Young, old, child, student, men, women…. How about that?
In conclusion, what the Irish government is saying defeats all fear driven hysteria and racist scapegoating of migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers. Suddenly this country is in a position to take in 70,000 working age people, in other wards up to 70,000 families overt the following years. Let’s remember that next time someone says Ireland is full…
Or, are the skin colours, religion, ethnicity are part of the criteria? If so, that’s racist… As the categorisation of Irish emigrants according to their formal skills is discriminatory….