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New report reveals problems faced by returning Irish emigrants

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Misinterpretation, misapplication and misconceptions are causing a barrier for returned Irish emigrants and their right to access social welfare entitlements on their return to Ireland.

new report published this week by Crosscare Migrant Project, titled A Hundred Thousand Welcomes? explores the difficulties experienced by Irish emigrants who have returned to live in Ireland and have been refused social welfare support on their return. 

The report presents findings from an online survey and Crosscare Migrant Project’s case work on returned emigrants who have been refused an entitlement as they are not deemed to be ‘habitually resident’.

Returned Irish emigrants expressed their surprise and dismay with the social welfare process, with some having experienced homelessness and abject poverty. ‘Intimidating’, ‘demeaning’ and ‘frustrating’ are some of the expressions used to describe their experience in applying for social welfare support on return to Ireland.

The report includes the experiences of Irish support organisations abroad who work with current emigrants who perceive the complications with access to social welfare as a barrier to return and are therefore choosing not to return as soon as they would like. Speaking about Crosscare Migrant Project’s work with returned Irish emigrants, Danielle Mc Laughlin (Policy Officer with Crosscare) said:

“Many of the people we work with are returning in difficult circumstances such as homelessness, joblessness and with families to support. Our service supports them to access the payments they are entitled to but this can take a long time in an urgent situation which leaves them at considerable risk of abject poverty and poor health. 

“Inconsistencies in how the assessments are made for social welfare need to be addressed to prevent this impact on people returning to live and work long term in Ireland.

“The Government has committed to support the welcome return of Irish emigrants in its Programme for Government. We are keeping the Government updated on the inconsistencies in social welfare administration. We are advocating for all supports needed for families who return to allow them the dignity to find their feet in Ireland whilst they find their way back into employment.”