Generation Emigration

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens abroad

‘The bad behaviour of some young emigrants makes me ashamed’

For the first time in my life I feel my accent could stand against me professionally and socially, as the bad behaviour of some young Irish people in Australia is tarnishing the reputation of us all, writes Carol Gibney.

Wed, Aug 29, 2012, 01:00

   

For the first time in my life I feel my accent could stand against me professionally and socially, as the bad behaviour of some young Irish people in Australia is tarnishing the reputation of us all, writes Carol Gibney.

Almost daily I am hearing of or meeting new Irish moving to Perth because of the economic situation in Ireland. Websites have been set up to offer practical advice, support and friendship to ease the transition for the new immigrants. My husband and I left Ireland in 1988 during the last recession with our then very young children and have lived in Perth, Western Australia ever since. We understand what it feels like to start a new life in a strange place and are delighted to be able to offer support to our fellow Irish people. This is now my home and I am an Australian citizen. I maintain my Irish citizenship and have always said I was blessed to be able to live in Australia and to have been born Irish.

We left Ireland during the last recession in the hopes of giving our children a better future. They are now in their late 20s and I am forever grateful that we did leave back then. I would probably be one of the broken hearted parents waving goodbye to my children now at Dublin airport as they leave the country to find a future in distant lands. Because we left, I have the privilege of living close to my children and my grandchild who was born here four years ago.

In my experience Irish people have always been welcomed into Australia. Generally, they seem to find it very easy to integrate and create a great life for their families. However, to my embarrassment this is now changing. Almost weekly we are reading in our local newspapers and in Irish newspapers of the antisocial behaviour among the young Irish arriving now. Jobs are being advertised, illegally I might add, with “No Irish Need Apply” in the description. Private rental owners are also advertising “No Irish Need Apply”. Naturally we Irish here are horrified, and the discrimination is being addressed by the appropriate authorities.

However, it is important not to miss the point. These discriminatory comments are a symptom, not the cause. The cause is the disgraceful behaviour of drunken Irish louts causing trouble in entertainment areas, being consistently unreliable at work, applying for jobs they are not skilled to do and destroying rental properties by having out of control parties and leaving them in a dreadful condition when they vacate.

For the first time in my life I feel my accent could stand against me professionally and socially. I am ashamed of some of my fellow countrymen. What has happened in Ireland to breed such an uncouth group of disrespectful, unappreciative thugs? Is this the product of short-lived prosperity? Do they have no regard for the opportunity they have been given and no consideration for the consequences their actions have on other hard working families who are unable to find work or rental accommodation because of the wake of destruction left behind after their “craic”? They are a disgrace to Ireland and should hang their heads in shame.

It’s time we, the Irish in Australia, step up and try to redress the balance. We must show zero tolerance for this behaviour and voice that loudly and clearly. I will, and have, happily supported any new immigrant coming to Australia but I will not condone or dismiss any behaviour that impacts on my life or the lives of others who are trying to make a fresh start here. I would ask that the Irish in Ireland do their part too by instilling appreciation and good manners into their youth so that, if they are unable to offer them a future in Ireland, they can at least be proud of who they are sending overseas to represent them.

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