No welcome for returning emigrants

Senator Billy Lawless: working on behalf of returning emigrants.
Senator Billy Lawless: working on behalf of returning emigrants.

A Galway conference has heard how returning Irish emigrants feel they are being treated “like an unwanted alien” due to the huge array of bureaucratic obstacles facing them.

Paying hiked insurance premiums, having to fork out for 12 driving lessons before resitting the test and forced to cough up at least €12,000 a year in third level fees are among the difficulties spoken about at the forum held at the Connacht Hotel in the city.

Organised by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform USA (ILIR) and Safe Home Ireland, which helps people aged over 57 to return, the conference was streamed live globally to Irish centres in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and the US.

Since 2009, 193,200 people between the ages of 15 and 24 left Ireland – 29,000 of them were students.

Ciaran Staunton, chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform USA, said it was more difficult for an Irish citizen returning home to open up a bank account than it was for the undocumented Irish to do so in the US.

Being refused home help for loved ones because of working abroad for two years was a bureaucratic decision that defied logic. Driving insurance quotes of €4,600 were not uncommon.

He said one of the biggest sources of complaint to his office was the lack of empathy by those in charge of bureaucracy. He was struck by the comment by one returning emigrant that it was “very, very difficult to come home” and that one felt like “an unwanted alien”.

For more,  read this week’s Connacht Tribune.