It’ll take more than tax breaks and hashtags to bring emigrants home

The decision to move abroad, or to come back, has many reasons behind it, both personal and social

‘With over 80 per cent of post-crash emigrants under the age of 35, Ireland’s marginal rates on high incomes are a concern for only very few of those who have moved abroad... personal tax pales in comparison to healthcare costs, housing costs, utility costs, and the everyday cost of living.’

‘With over 80 per cent of post-crash emigrants under the age of 35, Ireland’s marginal rates on high incomes are a concern for only very few of those who have moved abroad... personal tax pales in comparison to healthcare costs, housing costs, utility costs, and the everyday cost of living.’

Since Mary Robinson raised it to our emotive national consciousness in 1995, we use the word “diaspora” when we talk about the Irish abroad. In Dingle last week for the “Ireland’s Edge” conference at Other Voices, it struck me that we have no Irish word for diaspora, except the disappointingly transliterated “diaspóra”. The best Irish word I could think of was “deoraíocht”, our word for “exile”, with echoes of the Irish for tears. In Donegal there is a place where families traditionally said goodbye to their emigrants called Droichead na nDeor; the bridge of tears.

There will be tears aplenty in airport lounges, TV news bulletins, and living rooms around the country as many of our modern scattering return home for Christmas. Many families will tearfully welcome home some of the more than a quarter of a million Irish people who have emigrated in the past few years. At airports, the Government’s new #HometoWork campaign posters will encourage emigrants to “Make your Christmas commute shorter next year”.

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