Bishop Kirby comments on Irish emigration
In response to the recent public debate on the causes affecting contemporary Irish emigration, Bishop John Kirby, chair of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Emigrants, said, “While some Irish people may choose to work abroad – and this was especially true during the economic boom – many of our people now emigrating have no other option available to them.
“Sadly, for many Irish people today emigration is not a lifestyle choice, but a necessity. Our new emigrants are forced to leave behind family and loved ones because of circumstances outside of their control. Many Irish people across the age groups must now take on the challenge of building a new life for themselves abroad. At a human level this will be very difficult as they cope with loneliness and isolation.”
Bishop Kirby said, “Since the 1950’s the Catholic Church in Ireland has provided chaplains for our emigrants in Britain, the United States and as far as Australia, to support their pastoral and spiritual needs. Our chaplaincies in London, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Sydney are experiencing increased demand for advice concerning issues such as: spiritual and emotional support; medical, employment, accommodation, legal and immigrant status. We have found that many of the problems presenting are similar in nature to those we have dealt with in previous generations.”
Bishop Kirby concluded “The reality is that the new generation of Irish emigrants have had this lifestyle choice made for them as a consequence of the downturn in the economy.”
Notes for Editors
Bishop John Kirby is Bishop of Clonfert, chair of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Emigrants and chair of Trócaire – the overseas aid agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
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