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    Over 1600 Irish refused benefits under HRC

    Monday, November 19th, 2007

    There were 1,629 Irish citizens and returning emigrants that have been refused welfare benefits under the habitual residency condition, according to a report by Carl O’Brien in today’s Irish Times.

    Emigrant Advice staff member Joe O’Brien says that the situtaion is detrimental to those intending to return:

    “It’s something that needs to be tackled immediately because it’s unacceptable that returning Irish emigrants should be refused the safety and the protection of the welfare system on their return.

    “The restrictions are unfair because they don’t take into account how long a person may have lived her prior to the welfare rules changing. As a result, we’ve asked the department to make alterations to the application of the habitual residency condition.”

    The report says the Department of Social and Family Affairs said 90% of returning emigrants have their applications accepted. Emigrant Advice says they know of a number of returning emigrants and missionaries who have been refused social assistance.

    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)

    Columnist laments returnees’ plight

    Friday, June 8th, 2007

    The Irish Independent’s article on Vincent Lavery, the 71-year-old returned emigrant who has had difficulty finding a job and accessing social welfare benefits, has prompted an article by a columnist lamenting the difficulties of return.

    Martina Devlin says that she, too, is a returned emigrant, having left for college in England in the 1980s and returning in 1995. She notes that her return had its own difficulties. She says that she learned not to draw attention to her London experience:

    There was a resistance to returned emigrants sharing their expertise, informative though it was. We’re touchy on the subject. People who haven’t worked away can feel threatened by those with a broader perspective.

    She also notes that the welcome for returning emigrants does not always live up to Ireland’s reputation.

    If our emigrants are only back for a fortnight’s holiday it’s all sweetness and light and whatever you’re having yourself, but should they relocate permanently the welcome grows tarnished.

    We pay lip service to the notion of opening our arms to our emigrants, but shrug our shoulders about problems in store for anyone taking us up on our half-hearted offer.

    Ms Devlin says she has feels sorry for retired emigrants, “because the Ireland of their hearts no longer exists”.

    The mission for them is finding if they have any common ground with the version that replaced it.

    If we could shake off our tigerish tendencies, we could help them in this challenge. A country’s assets are meant to be its people – and our returned emigrants are part of that pool of wealth.

    Read the full article on the Irish Independent website.

    Returning teacher “sad and frustrated”

    Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

    A 71-year-old emigrant who has returned home after five decades in the US is “sad and frustrated” with life back in Ireland, according to the Irish Independent. Journalist Shane Hickey reports that Vincent Lavery returned home after a 35-year career in teaching in Fresno, California; in the US he was highly active in his community, as a soccer coach and actor, and was active in the Democratic party. In addition, he founded the “Children’s Committee 10″, a charity that brought children from Northern Ireland (and later Lebanon) to holiday in the US.

    He cited the employment indicators for teaching, as well as the positive words of President Mary McAleese and programmes such as Safe Home, which assists older emigrants in returning home, as factors in his decision to return to Ireland.

    “I left Ireland when I was 20 but Ireland never left me”, he said. I came back every year. I came back permanently after giving two years of deliberation, under the impression that I could get work teaching.”

    His teaching credentials, however, are not recognised here, and he has only worked 14 days in schools here since he returned nine months ago. Moreover, although he is the author of four books on soccer coaching, his attempts to coach youth football have been met with “a blank wall”, reports the journalist.

    “People would look at me and I’d think, ‘What might it be about me?’ and the only thing I can say is my age…The Celtic Tiger Ireland has looked at this person without even giving him a day in court to see what he can offer. I had a lot to offer in America. I am absolutely sad and frustrated”.

    Read the whole story on the Irish Independent website.

    Ireland’s success can be model for new EU: McAleese

    Friday, May 25th, 2007

    Ireland’s success in attracting emigrants home emerged as a major theme of President Mary McAleese’s remarks during her visit to Latvia and Lithuania this week.

    During her visit to Latvia on Tuesday, President McAleese said, ‘The largest number of Irish migrants left because they had little opportunity at home. We know they would wish to come home, so it’s important to explain to them what’s happening in Ireland now”.

    President McAleese told Lithuanians, “As your economy expands, many Lithuanians currently living in Ireland will surely feel the pull of home”. She added, “When they do return, they will bring with them valued skills and experience to help develop your own country as it seeks to reap the full advantages of EU membership.”

    Diaspora now the ‘buyaspora’?

    Monday, May 21st, 2007

    “The Irish diaspora has become the Irish buyaspora”,  Alastair Adair, a professor of real estate at the University of Ulster, has told the Chicago Tribune. Professor Adair was commenting on the career of Garrett Kelleher, the returned emigrant who is building North America’s tallest skyscraper.

    Professor Adair also noted that last year, Irish real estate investors poured $18 billion into property deals, mainly in Europe and the US East Coast.

    He added, “It’s a new era in which Irish developers are seeking a global profile by identifying opportunities  to own iconic buildings. ”

    As for Mr Kelleher, the 45-year-old real estate developer began his construction career in London as a labourer, before moving to New York and then Chicago; he returned home in 1995 with a “substantial amount” of money. He started his Dublin company, Shelbourne Development Ltd, that year, and is now worth about $1 billion.

    He is currently building the 150-story Spire in Chicago, a $1.5-billion project. He expects half the buyers to be foreign.

    Read the full article on the Chicago Tribune website.

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