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‘Good to Know Before you Go’

The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas has launched a social media awareness campaign entitled: ‘Good to Know Before You Go’.  The campaign, which involves a brief video and humorous messages and images on social media, seeks to encourage young Irish emigrants to take care of themselves and each other, while respecting laws and customs when travelling, living and working abroad.

This ICPO campaign is in response to the current wave of emigration and an increase in the number of Irish people breaking the law and becoming prisoners in certain jurisdictions.  It emphasises the importance of being aware of cultural differences and of adhering to local laws and customs, while also raising awareness of emigrant services so that those who get into difficulty can access available pastoral and other supports.

Launching the campaign in the departures area of Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport, Bishop John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert and chair of the Irish Bishop’s Council for Emigrants, said, “The Catholic Church is committed to supporting the pastoral needs of our people abroad.  Since the 1950’s Irish chaplaincies, and since 1985 the ICPO, have reached out to our emigrants in need of help, and who find themselves voiceless: often vulnerable, isolated and alone.

“Today, along with the ICPO, I wish to recognise and salute the Trojan work the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain, the Irish Apostolate USA, and the Irish Chaplaincy in Sydney.  Our staff and volunteers work tirelessly to meet the needs of Irish emigrants of all generations, and in doing so fulfil an essential mission of the gospels: to love God and to love your neighbour,” Bishop Kirby said.

Bishop Kirby thanked Mr Alan Brogan (32) for attending the launch in order to give a personal account of his own recent emigrant experience. Bishop Kirby also thanked the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade for funding this campaign under its Emigrant Support Programme.  He acknowledged with gratitude the work of the Consular Assistance Unit of the Department, and its Irish embassies and consulates, for the excellent support provided to Irish prisoners overseas and to the ICPO.

Speaking at the launch Joanna Joyce, Coordinator of the ICPO Maynooth office, said, “Traditionally the majority of Irish prisoners overseas have been detained in the UK, but it is likely that the recent wave of emigration will result in an increase in the number of Irish prisoners in other parts of the world.  In the last two years, for example, the ICPO has seen an increase in the number of young emigrants committing an offence and spending a period of time in prison in Australia.”

“In our experience alcohol is a feature in many offences committed by younger emigrants in Irish communities overseas.  As well as the serious sanctions applied by authorities abroad to those who transgress the law in the area of drugs and alcohol, their use often causes serious mental health problems amongst our emigrants.  We encourage emigrants to reach out to their local chaplaincy for pastoral support, or if in difficulty to connect with their Irish immigration centre for advice and support.

“Finally, I urge everyone to view the brief ‘Good to know before you go’ video on our new website icpo.ie, our Facebook message campaign on Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, and on Twitter @ICPOprisoners,” Joanna Joyce said.

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