Taking stock of The Gathering

 

Sir, – With the end of 2013 almost upon us “The Gathering 2013” also comes to a close, making it high time to question such an initiative.

As an Irish citizen studying abroad, I feel tied to my home country, but the more I talk to other ex-pats from other countries, the more I realise the Irish are particularly apathetic about those who live or study outside its borders.

Ireland is one of the few countries in which its citizens may not cast a vote in general or presidential elections if they are not in the country at the time of the election.

Furthermore, at least at my bank, you cannot get a student bank account if you are not a student at an Irish university, despite being a student, Irish and with a permanent residence in Ireland.

These may appear small details, but ones which I feel are examples of a greater problem – if Ireland wishes to encourage those who have gone abroad to come back or to maintain closer ties with their homeland, perhaps it is time for some more permanent, structural changes rather than a mass media campaign to encourage expat-tourism. – Yours, etc,

STEPHANIE BRUCE-SMITH,

Rue Gambetta,

Poitiers, France.