Irish in Britain on election: ‘An amazing, bizarre and painful time to be here’

Irish readers living in the UK have their say on who should form the next government and why

Doireann McMahon: ‘I’ve lived in London for 16 years and I will be voting Labour’

Doireann McMahon: ‘I’ve lived in London for 16 years and I will be voting Labour’


The time is almost here for voters in the UK to have their say on who should form the next government. Among them are the many thousands of Irish citizens living in the UK eligible to vote. We asked our Irish readers in Britain who they will vote for and why, and received a large and varied response. Here is a selection.

Fiona McErlean, Winchester: ‘Brexit has broken my heart’

I have been living in UK for 11 years with my husband and three children, who are from nine to 14 years old. I’m a GP. I will be voting Liberal Democrats as in our constituency the race is between them and Tories. Brexit has broken my heart and the Conservatives have shown themselves to be money grabbing, uncaring and selfish. Although I am a higher earner, a higher tax is necessary as I see firsthand working in the NHS how austerity has irreversibly hurt so many people.

Manya Sahni, London: ‘It’s time to let the country grow again’

I moved to London to study my Masters and PhD. When I was four years old I moved to Ireland. As an immigrant twice over I believe the world benefits hugely from freedom of movement. Immigrants bring new ideas and help science, medicine and education to grow. I will vote tactically for Labour. It’s time for the Tories and lies to stop. It’s time to let the country grow again.

Brian, London: ‘I’ll be voting for either the Conservative or the Brexit Party’

I’m 28 and from Co Tipperary but living in Lewisham, which is a Labour safe seat. But I will most likely be voting for either the Conservative Party or the Brexit Party next week for two major reasons. Firstly, in my opinion Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is full of disastrous ideas. Secondly, I feel very strongly that politicians have a duty to the electorate to honour the EU referendum result. It was an incredibly unpopular result for the majority of the British and Irish media but if democracy means anything, it should mean implementing the result. Dissenting voices calling to revoke Article 50 or hold a second referendum are incredibly disingenuous. They are only crying foul over “lies” or “misinformation” because the result (for once) didn’t go their way.

Siobhán Bryar: ‘Johnson’s inability to have any idea of most people’s lives scares me’

I will vote Labour. I have always voted Labour, but this time I was unsure. I would never vote Tory. Looking at Johnson and the way he lies, his inability to have any idea of most people’s lives scares me. As an Irish person I will solidly support a party who will be open to another referendum. I believe Corbyn will have the ability to calm people down and allow us to learn to care about each other. This is important.

Mary Jennings: ‘I will be voting tactically for the Lib Dems.’
Mary Jennings: ‘I will be voting tactically for the Lib Dems.’

Kevin Kerr, Birmingham: ‘Things are such a mess ... I will not be voting’

I have always voted Liberal Democrats. This time as things are in such a mess and parliament not being able to be seen to act in the people’s interest, I will not be voting. The Border in Ireland is being used by all parties for political point scoring. It is a shame it was not thought about before.

Daniel Johnston, Oxford: ‘An amazing, truly bizarre and painful time’

I’ll be voting Labour, because I think they’re the best chance of saving all the good things about the UK. But I can’t get over the wilful Conservative majority who openly mistrust Johnson, and will still vote for him and his party. It’s an amazing time to be in England, truly bizarre and painful for many.

Andrew Molamphy, Worcestershire: ‘Everyone is sick to death of Brexit’

I’ll be voting Conservative. I’m Australian by birth, but my parents are from Munster, I have lived here since I was nine-years-old. I’m a civil engineer. The whole Labour party is no longer the party of the working man or woman. I think it will lose seats across the Midlands and the North East. In my view Corbyn would ruin this country. And everyone is sick to death of Brexit!

Sarah Fox, London: ‘Change is needed’

I work in children's services in an inner London borough, and have seen the disastrous impact the austerity policies of the Conservative and Coalition governments have had on the lives of the most vulnerable people in our society since 2010. Change is needed and a Labour government is that change. I have voted Labour since moving here in 2001, and joined the Labour party in 2010 after the general election. I will be giving them my vote in this election. I dread to see the next five years play out under a Tory government; it’s genuinely a terrifying prospect.

Margaret (Rita) McEvoy, Birmingham: ‘Crippling effects of austerity’

Margaret McEvoy with her husband and son Patrick.
Margaret McEvoy with her husband and son Patrick.

My husband and I retired at the end of academic year 2019 and have witnessed firsthand the crippling effects of Conservative government’s austerity measures on schools and public services. My husband is a retired secondary school headteacher and I’m retired practice educator for social work students. We are both voting Labour in the upcoming general election in the UK and all our three children will be too.

Triona Hurley, Poole: ‘I fear what kind of Brexit a Conservative win will mean’

I’m from Cork, but live in Poole. I’m an airline pilot over here. I’m voting for the Lib Dems, but I fear that the Conservatives might win with a majority and what kind of Brexit that will mean.

Peter Collins left Ireland in 1986 and is a member of the Liberal Democrats party.
Peter Collins left Ireland in 1986 and is a member of the Liberal Democrats party.

Áine Laughlin, Scotland: ‘I will make my final decision on my vote on the day’

I am still undecided about which way to vote. It is between the Scottish National Party(SNP) or Greens. I believe Scotland should be an independent country and remain part of the EU. Brexit is primarily an English want. In my view the Tories in Westminster has shown utter contempt to Scotland and Ireland as a whole in the past three years. The SNP are very good at voicing their discontent at Brexit and sticking up for Scotland in Westminster, however I worry they are so focused on independence that they can’t see the bigger picture. The Greens overall share my views – worry about the planet and back independence. My seat in Edinburgh is marginal with Labour. I worry about splitting my vote. I will make my final decision on my vote on the day.

Mike G, Herefordshire: ‘I’ll vote Labour, although it’s a gesture at best’

I moved to the UK in 1984 during the miners’ strike. I was aghast then at the political apathy among my peers and at an electoral system that enables a government to be formed with a substantial majority, but with less than 30 per cent of the popular vote. As I see it, Brexit is the whirlwind that is being reaped by a country that has allowed these two issues to thrive, along with a press that feeds the Tory narrative. I was active for many years in politics, including time as an elected District Councillor for the Lib Dems. I’m now a member of the Labour Party and I’ll be voting Labour, although it’s a gesture at best in a hugely safe Tory seat.

Orla Falls, London: ‘Social justice sits best with my values’

Orla Falls said she will vote Labour.
Orla Falls said she will vote Labour.

Co Antrim born and bred, and I moved to London following my undergraduate degree at Trinity College Dublin. I’ve been delivering business transformation for large organisations since 1990. I’ve been living in east London since 2004. I was initially shocked by the lack of social mobility in corporations when I started and I’m now involved in various local community groups to mentor and support. I’m voting Labour as social justice sits best with my values and I’m a remainer (under the proviso that change is needed in Brussels).

Stephen Mulcahy, London: ‘I’m voting anyone but Boris Johnson’

It’s very simple for me: anyone but Boris Johnson. The man is an opportunist at best. He is attempting to finesse a whole general election on the paucity of a promise to complete Brexit, token NHS improvements and a get-tough social policy. Labour would romp this election with an attractive leader and front bench, but is saddled with Corbyn. Nevertheless, Labour offers the only hope for a future in which the forgotten will be finally remembered.

James O’Sullivan: ‘I’ve lived in England since I was 16’

I will be voting for Boris Johnson and Brexit. I’ve lived in England since I was 16 years old and I’m now 74.

Robert Mahon, London: ‘This elections feels more personal to me than others’

I am an assistant headteacher in a mixed comprehensive Catholic school in North Kensington in London. My brother also lived in London until his death at Christmas two years this December. My school and my area were badly affected by the Grenfell fire in 2017. This election seems more personal to me than previous ones. I have been teaching English in Ladbroke Grove for 10 years and, at 35, I am about to vote in what feels like the most important of all general elections since I moved from Kildare as a graduate during the collapse of the Irish economy in 2007. As a proud Irishman, Europhile and lover of this great city of London, I will be voting for my local Labour candidate. I have been pained by the indifference towards the Irish border, towards the citizens of Northern Ireland, and to the general political apathy directed towards the marginalised in British society. I believe the Labour party can help to unite the tribal factions. Corbyn could represent an entire movement towards a fairer, greener and kinder society. For many, Brexit is the central focus, the obsession for the last three years. I love London. I love living in the UK, but I am deeply frustrated at the prospect of a government run by Johnson who will change the face of Britain for an eternity . If this is the case this coming week, my eyes and soul will look towards Ireland once more. On Thursday, after a busy day teaching my wonderful, inner city students - who come from all around Europe- I will return to Brixton and place my X for Labour. I won’t be the only Irish person following this route.

Kevin McPhillips has lived in Scotland for 30 years and will Lib Dems.
Kevin McPhillips has lived in Scotland for 30 years and will Lib Dems.

D Stapleton, Brighton and Hove: ‘After Brexit I threatened to move home’

I’ll be voting Green as Caroline Lucas has held this seat for many years, however anywhere else and I would be voting Labour. In my view the Tories, and the Lib Dems, will destroy the NHS, make themselves and their pals richer at the cost of everyone else, especially those already living in poverty. After the public voted for Brexit I threatened to move home. But as was recently reported Dublin is terrible for returning Irish citizens with housing and cost of living issues.

Audrey Eager, London: ‘This election shows the need to reform voting system’

I’m voting Lib Dems, I could never vote the Tories or Corbyn. This whole election sums up the need to reform the voting system, it shouldn’t force people feeling that it’s a binary choice. It’s time to be brave and vote for an alternative.

Sean Kirwan, Carmarthenshire: ‘I sadly expect the Tories to win’

I was born and raised in Dún Laoghaire, and an ex civil servant in both jurisdictions. I lived for 25 years in Warwickshire and moved to Wales on retirement. I will vote Plaid Cymru. Plaid are fully anti-Brexit. I sincerely hope Labour can appeal to the remaining British and that they form the next government supported by the smaller parties including Plaid Cymru, followed by a second referendum fought on the basis of truth and not lies. I fear nor, however, and sadly expect the Tories to win.

Terry Connolly, London: ‘I want a return of hope’

I’ll be voting for Labour in the election. There are a couple of reasons why. Firstly, my wife is a teacher and from outside the EU, and we’ve been through the Tory settled status scheme. It was horrendous. Despite the promise that we would have to wait only nine days for her status to come through, we had to wait three months for a decision; it was incredibly stressful as we were unsure of how the decision would go. The other reason is I’m a librarian at a small university in South East London, I see how much mental stress has been placed on students by the fact that they will be leaving their courses with up to £60,000 debt. I’ve seen the impact that cuts to third level education have had on our service; our budget has been cut by 50 per cent as have our staffing number, while costs for databases and journals climb ever higher. There are other reasons including the scale of homelessness is unbelievable, the social clearances of parts of London where estates have sold and tenants have been forced out to make way for people involved in the rent economy. I’m agnostic about Brexit. I want a return of hope. Labour offers it and the others don’t.

Peter Coghlan, Poole: ‘I’ll be voting Liberal Democrats’

Peter Coghlan .
Peter Coghlan .

Our constituency is a Tory “safe seat” which means under the ridiculous”first past the post” system, our sitting MP, who is an ardent Brexit supporter, requires only a simple majority to keep his seat. According to tactical voting sites our best hope of ousting this candidate is to vote for the Liberal Democrats, which is what I will be doing.

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