‘Red-tape’, employment, accommodation and emotional well-being are the main challenges associated with returning to Ireland according to a survey of recently returned Irish emigrants.
Forming the basis of a new report by Crosscare Migrant Project, the responses provide real insight into the experiences of Irish emigrants who have made the move back to Ireland in the last two years. 400 people took part in the detailed research project.
Many of those who took part in the research were living abroad for between 3 to 5 years. Several expressed surprise at the unexpected emotional cost of returning to Ireland. Some stated feeling alienated upon return, ‘Mentally it was tough. At times it felt like the country I was born in was making it as difficult as possible for me to move back’. Others note, ‘People expect you to just return to normal as though you have never been away’. Overwhelmingly, being closer to family is given as the main reason for return.
Ireland has recently seen increased numbers of its emigrants returning from abroad, with inward migration of Irish citizens in 2016 up by 74% on the previous year. Though many of the difficulties raised in the report affect all of Ireland’s population, these can be very difficult to overcome for people returning in crisis.
Speaking about Crosscare Migrant Project’s work with returned Irish citizens, Sarah Owen, the Irish Abroad Networking Officer with Crosscare, said “As we have been seeing for some time in our direct work, not all our emigrants make a planned return to Ireland. Some people come home in very difficult situations, with little income or support. For this reason we are liaising with Government over practical issues such as the application of the Habitual Residence Condition, and fast tracked PPS numbers for people coming home with children. We have also been in contact with the Department of Housing in relation to barriers for returning Irish emigrants accessing homeless supports.”
As well as challenges, the report also features benefits to return and key advice for others considering a move back to Ireland, such as ‘Research and budget in advance’ and ‘Do it for yourself and not for others’.
The 23 question survey was conducted online between November 2016 and January 2017. 400 qualified responses were received by Irish emigrants who had returned to live in Ireland in the last 2 years. Key findings of the subsequent ‘Home for Good?’ report were as follows:
- Age: Over 32% were between 26 to 30 years old
- Time spent abroad: 40% lived abroad for a period of 3 and 5 years
- Family status: 63% returned with family (partner/spouse/children)
- Reason for return: 83% said proximity to family was the main reason for return
- Future plans: 55% plan to remain in Ireland permanently
- In employment: 85% prior to return, 70% post-return
- Top 3 countries of return: Australia (41% or 163 respondents); United Kingdom (23% or 91 respondents) and United States of America (9% or 37 respondents)
The five main challenges identified in the survey are:
- Insurance and administrative issues (car insurance, driving licences, tax etc.)
- Employment (finding employment, foreign qualifications, temporary contacts)
- Accommodation (cost and availability of private rented accommodation, mortgages)
- Reintegration to Irish life & culture
- Social support and emotional well-being (loss of support networks, isolation, reverse-homesickness)
Crosscare Migrant Project is a Dublin based non-governmental organisation funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Emigrant Support Programme to work with intending and returning Irish emigrants. It is a project of Crosscare, the social support agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin. The focus of Crosscare Migrant Project’s direct information and advocacy work is with those who are marginalised. For returning emigrants, Crosscare Migrant Project helps people to access statutory supports, apply for social welfare payments and place appeals on refusals if necessary. For intending emigrants Crosscare Migrant Project provide an overview of visa systems for major destination countries as well as pre-departure information and referrals to Irish support organisations abroad.