Mary Robinson, when she was president, famously displayed a candle in the window of Áras an Uachtaráin to signal to Irish people abroad that they would always be welcome home. How we wish this candle was burning today.
As an Irish immigrant in London, I feel that the Irish diaspora is being left out of talks about allowing travel back into Ireland.
The chief medical officer and the National Public Health Emergency team (NPHET) are understandably cautious about travel, but the narrative seems to be about Irish people losing out on their two weeks in Alicante. What about Irish people living abroad who just want to go home and visit their parents, grandparents, or siblings?
The chief medical officer's comments about travel being a luxury are insulting to emigrants. Emigration and the notion of diaspora are ingrained in Irish society, so why are policymakers trying to pretend they no longer matter? The pandemic has been distressing for us, too; it’s not wrong that we want to be reunited with our families.
While those at home can treasure seeing family and friends again, spare a thought for those of us with little hope of being able to do so anytime soon.