Jim Carroll

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The happiest Irish people of the month

The monthly ceremonies for thousands of new Irish citizens reminds you that migration is as much about generation immigration as generation emigration

New Irish citizens at a recent citizenship ceremony

Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 09:35


Every month or so, you get a reminder that living on this little rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean isn’t all gloom and doom. Of course, there are as many reasons to be cheerful as there are people here, but the fact that thousands of people are becoming Irish citizens every month is a reminder that some people value becoming Irish.

Yesterday, as has happened most months over the last two and a half years, nearly 4,000 people attended citizenship ceremonies where they took an oath of fidelity to the nation, received a certificate of naturalisation and became Irish citizens. They are the ones who moved here for various reasons, set up home, decided they liked the look of the place and then jumped through the many hoops to become Irish citizens. One of the new Irish citzens from yesterday’s ceremony is my old mucker Today FM DJ and producer Alison Curtis, who went from Canuck to Irish after 14 years living here.

But Alison’s tale is just one of thousands of happy stories from yesterday and from the other citizenship ceremonies which have taken place since Minister for Justice Alan Shatter introduced the idea to replace the citizenship ceremonies which used to take place in District Courts. What the ceremonies have done is put a monthly focus on our new citizens, their stories and their hopes for the future. There’s also lessons in all of this for those of us who were born and live here.

Thousands of Irish people may be leaving here at the moment, yet it needs to be acknowledged that thousands are also moving here. Like the Irish who’ve left for other places, the new Irish are coming to work, pay taxes, set up new businesses (the exception, perhaps, to the rule about everyone just wanting a job), start families and get ahead like migrants always do. That they’re doing this in Ireland rather than Canada or Australia, like those who’ve left here, is something to be applauded. Whatever about where they’ve come from, they’ve made a decision that Ireland is going to be their home from now on and are happy to become citizens of this place.

Perhaps all of this means we might see some change in how we talk and think about migration. Sure, it isn’t all happy-happy-joy-joy citizenship ceremonies – see this court case about three asylum seeker families challenging the direct provisions system of housing and allowances – but it’s high time to acknowledge that our migration story now is as much generation immigration as generation emigration. To do anything else would be to willfully ignore the evidence to the contrary.