David McWilliams: Are Ireland’s relatively low Covid deaths due to emigration?

Emigration to the UK in the 1950s and 1960s may have saved our fragile health service far more than lengthy lockdown

Our death rates are similar to those of Denmark, yet we closed down five times longer. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Our death rates are similar to those of Denmark, yet we closed down five times longer. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

The majority of older Irish people who died of Covid-19 probably died in England. When it comes to fewer deaths from Covid-19, our reasonably good outcomes may have less to do with lockdown and more to do with the echo of emigration.

The huge proportion of older Irish people living in England is a function of the massive emigration to England in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1950s, half a million people left for England and in the 1960s another 300,000 followed them. There is scarcely a family in Ireland without an old uncle or aunt in Coventry, Manchester or London.

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