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    Member’s Query: Exemption from Irish

    Thursday, May 8th, 2008

    We’ve had a query from one of our member groups regarding the exemption from the Irish language.  This is an issue that may affect those who are returning to Ireland with school-aged children.

    The Department of Education has a document outlining who may be exempted and the procedure for granting an exemption.  The part that is applicable to returning emigrant children is as follows:

    Pupils in the following circumstances may be allowed to substitute any other subject from the list of approved subjects for Irish for the purpose of Rule 21 (1) (a) and (b):-

    (a) Pupils whose primary education up to 11 years of age was received in Northern Ireland or outside Ireland;

    (b) Pupils who were previously enrolled as recognised pupils in a primary or second-level school who are being re-enrolled after a period spent abroad, provided that at least three years have elapsed since the previous enrolment in the State and the pupil is at least 11 years of age on re-enrolment;

    The document gives the procedure for getting an exemption as well, which begins with a parent or guardian submitting a written application to the principal.

    The document does note, however, that “[t]he second-level programme in Irish both current and planned has the capacity to cater for a wide diversity of ability”, so it seems to encourage parents to consider whether studying Irish may be suitable for their children.

    See the Department of Education’s document on exemption from Irish.

    On a related note, NY-born comedian Des Bishop, recently impressed TV viewers with his attempts to learn Irish for his RTE TV programme, “In the Name of the Fada”. Des came over to Ireland from NY as a teenager and has been making a name for himself as a keen observer of Irish life. He is now touring Ireland with a comedy show in Irish called “Teanga”.

    See more about “In the Name of the Fada” and watch the show on the RTE website.

    Returning Irish being refused benefits

    Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

    The issue of emigrants are being refused benefits under the Habitual Residence Condition needs to be addressed says Éan member agency Emigrant Advice in today’s Irish Times.

    The paper reports that Brian Flynn, director of the Social Welfare Appeals Office, “said appeals officers were concerned at ‘the deteriorating standards of decision-making and poor quality of file presentation’ by Department of Social and Family Affairs and HSE staff dealing with cases coming before them on appeal”. Mr Flynn made the comments at the launch of his 2006 annual report.

    Joe O’Brien of Emigrant Advice said that his agency saw returning emigrants being refused social welfare payments. “Between May 2004 and April 2006, 880 Irish people were refused a payment because they were not classified as habitually resident in Ireland. We see returning Irish emigrants being refused payments because of this rule. ”

    Journalist Alison Healy adds that O’Brien “referred to one case where a returned emigrant was refused social welfare, then granted a pyament on appeal but then refused when he went to collect it.”

    See the full story in the Irish Times (subscription required)

    Aisling Center’s book a sell-out hit

    Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

    New York’s Aisling Irish Community Center’s collection of memoirs written by Irish immigrants who arrived between 1927 and 1964 has become a hit. One local paper calls “While Mem’ry Brings Us Back Again” the “‘it’ gift” of the holiday season.

    The Journal News reports that the first edition of 1,500 copies has already sold out, with orders coming from as far away as Massachusetts, Florida, California and Ireland. A second printing is due in January.

    The paper quotes Aisling Board of Directors member John Mooney, who says little had generation, and they’ve laid the groundwork of first- and second-generation immigrants to become so successful,” he said.been written about this generation of immigrants. “This was sort of the silent

    On a personal note, your correspondent ordered the book as a gift for her father, a Kilkennyman who left for New York in 1963 – only to find he had not only already read the book but had also bought three copies to give to friends.

    Read the Journal News article.

    Read the original post on the project.

    Order the book from the Aisling Irish Community Center.

    Emigrants’ NY memoirs published by Aisling Center

    Thursday, December 7th, 2006


    “While Mem’ry Brings Us Back Again” is a volume of memoirs by Irish emigrants who moved to the U.S. between 1927-1964. Compiled by Frances Browner, organizer of the Aisling Center’s “Young at Heart? group, the book details the experiences of 35 different individuals from 18 different counties.

    “Far from their families, friends and everything they were used to. Every one of them overcame homesickness and the challenges of a new world and built fine lives for themselves in this great country,? said Tim O’Connor, Consul General of Ireland, at the launch of the book on November 28. “These stories will delight, absorb and uplift you. They also underline again the amazing story of the Irish in America and just how good this country has been to millions of our people.”

    Browner says of the emigrants’ recollections: “I was transported back 50 years and plunged into a place that was already forgotten by the time of my own arrival in 1987. Why did I not know all this before? Putting this book together may help keep these memories alive for future generations of Irish Americans to know what it was like to be a new arrival.?

    New York’s Daily News carries a report on last week’s launch, in which it profiles Frank Bergin, an 82-year-old who moved to NY just before the 1929 stock market crash. He recounts being shot in Alsace in 1945 while fighting in World War II; he went on to become the president of the Irish Business Organisation of New York and still works selling real estate.

    Order the book at the Aisling Center website.

    There’s a 30-minute documentaryon the project and its launch available on YouTube. (Well worth watching!)

    Éan 2005 conference report describes proceedings

    Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

    While Éan won’t be holding a conference this year, the proceedings of last year’s conference, themed “Toward a Positive Emigration Experience”, are available online. Speakers at last year’s event included representatives of the Federation of Irish Societies in Britain and the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers in the US, as well as people working with emigrant Travellers, prisoners, drug users and sexual abuse survivors. Writer Dermot Bolger gave the keynote speech and President Mary McAleese gave the concluding address.

    Among the topics discussed were assisted holidays, undocumented Irish immigrants in the US, recent emigration to the UK, and research on return migrants. The event’s networking and information exchange opportunities were meant to serve as an effective way for member organisations to improve the services they give to their clients.

    Catherine Dunne, author of “An Unconsidered People: The Irish in London”, compiled the report.

    See the conference report.

    Minister for Foreign Affairs meets with ILIR, NY groups

    Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

    The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, has met with representatives from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) in New York to discuss the campaign on behalf of undocumented Irish immigrants in the United States. The minister reiterated the Government’s strong support for the ILIR’s campaign. He added, “The plight of the undocumented gets harder by the day and the ILIR campaign has undoubtedly already had a strong impact in Congress and beyond. The Government will remain actively involved in representing the concerns of the undocumented in the crucial period ahead.?

    During his visit to New York, Mr Ahern also met with representatives of the following organisations:

    • Emerald Isle Immigration Center
    • Aisling Center
    • Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center, Philadelphia
    • New York Irish Center
    • Project Irish Outreach
    • Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers

    The Minister praised the work of the centres, saying, “The services offered by the Irish immigration centers are critical, particularly for the more vulnerable members of our communities here. I welcome the ongoing focus on supporting community networks and the development of services for older Irish people in this country. The work that the centers undertake to respond to the particular difficulties encountered by the undocumented in their communities is also of key importance?.

    See the Department of Foreign Affair’s press release.

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