Irish emigrants are impoverished, poor and without hope

June 10, 1989.

June 10, 1989.

A depressing picture of fear, poverty and homelessness which afflict some young Irish emigrants to Britain is revealed in a report launched this week.

Many arrive in Britain with a willingness to work hard and start a successful new way of life, says Fr Jim Kiely, director of the Irish Support and Advice Centre in Hammersmith, West London.

But all too often they end up struggling to support themselves and their family in Ireland. And, warns Fr Kiely, there is a real danger that “some are sinking into the abyss of crime, prostitution and homelessness”.

The centre’s annual report makes several recommendations:

Funds from the Irish State Lottery should be used to increase Ireland’s contribution to the welfare of its emigrants.

An emergency safe start fund should be set up to cater for the needs of the most vulnerable of the newly arrived immigrants.

The Irish abroad should be given a vote in the Irish elections, or, alternatively, the Irish Government should appoint a special minister with responsibilty for the country’s emigrants.

The report looks at the work of the centre over the last year. Referrals were up 15 percent, teenagers under 18, 60 percent.

“Our resources are limited, and yet there is a vital need to help these people, particularly the teenagers who arrive in London, some as young as fourteen. From my experience, where they stay and who they meet initially, is of immense importance. In fact, it is crucial in determining their whole future.

“The sad reality is that for some, we have a potentially tragic situation on our hands,” said centre director, Fr Kiely.