Returning emigrants - Where’s the céad míle fáilte?

SIGNS that the economic recovery is finally taking hold include the growing number of Irish emigrants returning home, having lived and worked abroad for a number of years. 

Most of them cite the pull of the homeland as well as missing family and friends or plans to have children as the main reason for returning.

However, improved economic prospects were also a factor for the more than 20,000 Irish nationals who returned home last year, according to CSO figures.

That’s the good news. The not so good news is that in the land of céad míle fáilte, we appear to confine our famous welcome to strangers.

The Oireachtas Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Committee heard yesterday of the many obstacles affecting those returning to rural areas, in particular.

These include difficulty obtaining a driving licence, car insurance and opening a bank account.

Some obstacles are quite bizarre. A US driving licence is not recognised here, yet a Canadian one can be swapped for an Irish licence.

“It is easier for an illegal to open a bank account in America than it is if they return home,” Ciarán Staunton of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform told the committee. He said there was a complete lack of empathy from government agencies with the plight of returning citizens.

While we complain of President Trump building walls shouldn’t we remove some of our own?

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