Niall O’Dowd: the right to live and work at home is “deeply important”

New York-based Irish publisher Niall O’Dowd editorialises on emigration on, writing about the flip side of the airport family reunions that feature so prominently in the media in the days running up to Christmas: the farewell.

“What is amazing is how little times have changed,” he writes. “You could have witnessed the same farewell scenes anytime in the last 50 years since air travel back home became a real possibility.”  He writes about the involuntary nature of emigration:

Every 30 years the exodus trend manifests itself –1920s, 1950s, 1980s and 2010 — with a relentless reality that underscores how little ever changes.

Of course emigration for those who want to leave is a question of choice, but for so many who depart it is an involuntary experience, not one they want to undergo.

There is an ambivalence about emigration in the Irish psyche, a sense on both sides of  the issue of unease. There have been many wonderful changes for the better in Ireland, a far more tolerant political consensus, an excellent education system, a far greater sense of looking outward than in– but emigration continues to cloud the horizon.

You will get crackpot theories that the island is too small to sustain so many which is nonsense, Manhattan has twice the population of Ireland in a 13.5 mile long island, for instance.

The fundamental question remains as to what to make of a country that fails in its primary task of cherishing its people equally and giving all an opportunity.To its credit,  the current government is now seeking to bring emigrants back home saying there is finally jobs in the improving economy.

It will be interesting to see if many emigrants take it up. The right to live and work in your own country is a deeply important one. It would be hugely encouraging if Ireland ended involuntary emigration.Whether that can be achieved will be clear soon enough and it will manifest itself in the departure gates of every Irish airport next January.

We added the bold emphasis. We would also assert that the right to vote in one’s home country is as vital as the right to live and work. Surely keeping the right to vote in one’s home country would also help to ensure the right to live and work there.

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