The Bishops’ Council for Emigrants (IECE) has published its Emigrant Information Pack for 2016. The pack contains practical information to assist emigrants in making informed decisions and support them while they are away. In addition to useful information and advice on the primary destination countries for Irish emigrants, the Emigrant Information Pack provides a step by step guide for intending J1 students. It deals with the recent changes in the visa programme that now requires students to secure a job ahead of travelling. In addition, the IECE has sought to highlight the international role played by the GAA as a source of sporting and cultural enjoyment and an excellent network to help Irish emigrants connect with one another.
Although it has reduced, and despite improvements in the economy and a fall in unemployment, the number of Irish people leaving Ireland each year remains high. Figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in August 2015 show that 35,300 Irish people emigrated in the twelve months prior to April 2015, a drop of some 5,400 on the previous year. A total of 80,900 people of all nationalities left Ireland during the same period, 1,000 fewer than the year before.
Commenting on these figures and the publication of the information pack, Brian Hanley of the IECE said, “While this is welcome news, emigration continues to have a profound effect on Irish society as many well educated, enthusiastic young people travel abroad in search of new opportunities. It is imperative that those considering emigration are prepared for the experience.
“In addition to practical assistance, emigrants need spiritual and emotional support. The Council for Emigrants, through its chaplains and agencies, continues to provide essential pastoral outreach to Irish emigrants as they strive to build a new life for themselves far from home.”
While emigration remains high, each year a significant number of Irish people also make the decision to come home (12,100 as per CSO 2015). Commenting on this fact, Brian Hanley said, “No matter how long an emigrant has been away, it is important that they plan ahead for their return. The Emigrant Information Pack contains a considerable amount of information intended to assist those who are returning to Ireland to access the supports they require”.
Commenting on the work of the IECE, Bishop John Kirby, Chair, said, “As a Church and a people we must continue to reach out to those who are affected by migration. We must remember an pray for all Irish people overseas, those who have recently left our shores for the first time and those who have been away for many years. We remember the families they have left behind and pray that they will find strength and comfort as they cope with the pain of separation. We also remember those who have travelled from foreign lands to begin new lives in Ireland. we pray that they will receive the same welcome that we would wish for our own emigrants far from home”.
The Emigrant Information Pack for 2016 is available here.
The IECE was founded in 1957 and is the response of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference to the needs of emigrants prior to and following departure. The IECE shows the caring face of the Church and is particularly committed to the needs of the vulnerable involuntary emigrant. The IECE strives to be a significant voice on behalf of emigrants, researching the ongoing needs of Irish emigrants, and creating awareness of these needs at home and abroad.