Tuesday the 18th of May

...to the ends of the earth

“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

GAA clubs ‘a vital link’ for Irish ex-pats across globe

According to a recent report launched by Crosscare Migrant Project, international Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) clubs are increasingly providing a vital network of support to Ireland’s emigrants around the world.

Crosscare Migrant Project initiated this project in association with the GAA to capture the experiences of Irish emigrants globally. Based on a survey of over 80 GAA club officers around the world, it aims to inform intending and returning Irish emigrants of the welfare issues to consider when moving abroad or on return, and highlight issues of concern for recent emigrants.

“For many Irish emigrants, being part of an international GAA club is a way to remain connected to Ireland while settling into life abroad,” Sarah Owen, Irish Abroad Networking Officer with Crosscare Migrant Project, said at the first GAA Global Games Development Forum last month.

“The social aspects of this are of particular benefit to recent Irish emigrants, contributing to a sense of belonging and promoting well-being when far away from friends and family.”

Pat Daly, GAA Director of Games Development, expressed delight at working with Crosscare, the social support agency of the Dublin Archdiocese.

“The GAA is delighted to work with Crosscare in a spirit of partnership to minimise vulnerabilities for people who are emigrating from Ireland or who may be returning home under difficult circumstances,” he said.

The report found that challenges facing Irish emigrants abroad varied from region to region, including concerns relating to health and mental health (Australia and New Zealand), visas and visa overstay (USA and Canada), social isolation and cultural differences (Europe, Asia, Middle East).

In terms of barriers to return, employment was identified by respondents as the most important factor in deciding to return to Ireland. This was followed by high cost of living and changes to lifestyle, and concerns about getting visas for non-Irish spouses or partners.

Respondents also advised future emigrants to research their destination country before departure; prepare as much as possible with savings, employment, accommodation, and by making connections with Irish living there or local GAA clubs; and to be prepared to take time to source a job and accommodation. They also suggested that future emigrants learn the language if moving to a non-English speaking country.

Crosscare Migrant Project is a Dublin based non-governmental organisation funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Emigrant Support Programme to work with intending and returning Irish emigrants. Crosscare Migrant Project is a project of Crosscare.

The focus of Crosscare Migrant Project’s direct information and advocacy work is with those who are marginalised. For returning emigrants, Crosscare Migrant Project helps people to access statutory supports, apply for social welfare payments and place appeals on refusals if necessary. For intending emigrants Crosscare Migrant Project provide an overview of visa systems for major destination countries as well as pre-departure information and referrals to Irish support organisations abroad.

The survey was conducted between September and November 2015 and sent to GAA club officers worldwide.

Respondents were asked four questions: What is the name and location of your club? What are the most important welfare related challenges facing Irish emigrants that you are aware of? How do you think Irish emigrants could be better prepared before they depart? And are there any particular barriers preventing people who wish to return to Ireland from returning home?

A total of 87 responses were received. These were broken down regionally into: Europe (33) – including UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Gibraltar, Austria and France; USA & Canada (29); Australia & New Zealand (18); and Asia, Africa and the Middle East (7) – including Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, South Africa and Qatar.

The full report, entitled Irish emigrant perspectives on emigration, is available at http://bit.ly/2b86AzT

Picture: Australia’s Jarryd Roughead in action against Paul Kerrigan during the EirGrid Ireland International match at Croke Park, Dublin. The 2015 International Rules Series (officially the 2015 EirGrid International Rules Test) was contested between Gaelic footballers from Ireland and Australian footballers from Australia. (Niall Carson/PA).