Our 'Returning Irish' Need Improved Support: Blaine Gaffney
Blaine Gaffney, a Fine Gael Representative in Sligo has called on the Government to do more to assist the tens of thousands of returning Irish people, who are making their way home to Ireland as the economy continues to grow.
New figures released from the Central Statistics Office last month confirm there was net inward migration of Irish nationals in the year to April 2018 with 28,400 Irish returning home in the first 4 months of this year.
Gaffney stated that “It is great to see people returning in such large numbers in 2018. However, despite this, from my experience to date many of those who have returned to Sligo recently have faced a whole host of teething problems and I feel that more needs to be done to make their transition a little bit easier.
“We all have a brother, a sister, a son or a daughter who has been away in Australia, the United States and places further afield over the last difficult decade.
“Most of these young professionals had no alternative but to take the plane and leave our shores after our economy imploded under the failed economic policies of Fianna Fáil and reckless bank lending. They were the cannon fodder for those bad decisions and now that the economy has begun to rebound, these same people are now finding things difficult once again and I believe that they need our full support with settling back in.
“There are issues arising with things such as; setting up bank accounts, accessing personal finances, problems with car Insurance and proving no claims bonus, problems with family reunification and difficulties with accessing childcare and health services. There are also complications with transferring driving licenses and also with education and qualifications recognition.
However, housing seems to be the biggest problem and biggest impediment to many people deciding to come home and I am fearful that despite the growing economy, if we don’t get construction ramped up in Sligo, that we may see a slowing of this trend in the years to come.
I have raised these issues directly with the Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciaran Cannon TD via the Young Fine Gael International Committee, who has advised that this is an issue he is determined to address.
Following the publication of an ‘Indecon Report’ on the problem last year, 30 recommendations were identified to help improve the situation and the Minister wrote to all Government Departments seeking their response to the report, and specifically to the recommendations in the report that fell within their areas of responsibility.
He advised that that he has also recently met directly with the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. to discuss the education related recommendations that were made in the Report. He has advised that the DFA has already implemented several of the Indecon Report’s recommendations in relation to information provision and identified that an enhanced ‘Returning to Ireland’ section containing more information and advice for returning emigrants has been developed for our dedicated diaspora website, the Global Irish Hub.
His officials are working closely with the Citizen’s Information Board to ensure that returning emigrants have the best information and advice possible to assist them in making the return back to Ireland.
He has also advised that he has written to all motor insurance underwriters that operate in Ireland requesting information as to their approach, with a view to further information on motor insurance for returning emigrant drivers being made available, as recommended in the report.
“However, despite these positives actions, many issues remain for many of our returning Irish and on that basis I will be asking the Minister to ramp up his efforts at addressing these issues and I would call on wider society in general to make an extra effort to help and assist our returning Irish” concluded Gaffney.