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Emigration has been Ireland’s traditional response to economic woes. During a brief period as the ‘Celtic Tiger,’ Ireland saw the reversal of this trend. Today’s economic problems are inspiring another generation of young Irish to pack up and leave, although the Irish are not arriving en-masse like they did during the Potato Famine of the 1800s. After mingling in downtown Toronto for even a brief period, one notices that the number of Irish-accents heard has increased sharply in recent years.
Although emigration is a sad phenomenon for Irish locals (some churches have installed webcams to include emigrants in the congregation) it may actually be an effective way of dealing with austerity. It certainly has reduced Ireland’s unemployment rate and the burden this places on the state’s finances. It may also explain why Ireland, despite a history of revolt against British rule, has not seen the uprising against austerity that Greece has. Instead of rioting, Ireland’s disgruntled young unemployed population emigrates. Thus, this recent wave of migration is good for Ireland.
Irish immigration to Canada is beneficial to Canada as well. No longer is the typical emigrant a poor laborer, today he or she is more likely to be a young and frustrated graduate. By accepting this demographic Canada is adding valuable skills to its population. Furthermore, it will help counter the demographic problem of retiring baby-boomers. Adding more young-people will increase the work-force population. This larger working population will be needed to support a growing proportion of retirees as baby-boomers exit the work-force. Ottawa appears to have recognised this fact as representatives from government and business have participated in Dublin’s job fairs. “We are trying to raise the profile of Canada because we have seen huge numbers of highly educated young Irish going to Australia,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in conversation with the Toronto Star. The government is also increasing the quota of Irish immigrants allowed to enter Canada.
by Dylan F