No choice but to emigrate
Madam, – As I am one of those who emigrated in 1962, not to enjoy myself but, like Sarah Moore (February 19th), to avoid a life of poverty in Ireland, her comments brought back memories. They also led me to reflect on how little the situation has changed since I boarded a flight at Dublin for Bristol.
I had left school two years before; my parents could not afford to put me through higher education. My future, for what it was worth, lay in a succession of low-paid, insecure jobs with plenty of bouts of unemployment in between. I wasted reams of paper and expended a small fortune on postage to make job applications that seldom elicited an acknowledgment, let alone an interview.
In despair, I left for England, where I have lived and worked since. The leaving was difficult and painful. Fitting in took much effort, but eventually I adjusted to life here. For a few years I entertained the hope that I might be able to return and tried to do so, only to run up against the barriers which made people like me in the Ireland of the time unable to find work. I refer to the croneyism and insider relationships which plagued the Ireland of the time and appear never to have gone away. Those who achieved their place in the sun post-Independence had no time for those caught on the outside, for that would have required changes which might have reduced their influence and status and upset their cosy world.
Emigration, I must tell Ms Moore, is as much an instrument of Government policy now as then, and as in the 19th century. Those of us who leave provide the safety- valve that allows the rotten shower in power to avoid having to create a more just and fair society.
It might well be better to stay at home and raise hell to change the odiously corrupt system which existed when I was young and which seems to have changed but little in the almost 50 years since I left. – Yours, etc,