UnNews:For Ireland, yet another brain drain
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30 November 2010
DUBLIN, Ireland -- Chronic economic mismanagement--culminating in last week's decision to raise taxes by €5,000 million in the next three years--shows signs of driving yet another generation of Irish to do what Irish do best: Live somewhere else.
About 65,300 people left the country in the last twelve months, while immigration dropped from 57,300 to 30,800. And figures released in September show that the Irish who remain are increasingly old and whiny.
The trend is worrisome for the rest of the world, as it promises a new wave of loud arguments and fistfights in pubs everywhere. In the United States, Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano announced plans to move beyond airports with a device that Americans are coming to hate: the "Paddywagon."
Ireland, a vibrant nation with chronically incompetent leadership, has driven young people away in waves throughout history: in the mid-1800s, when statesmen tried to prop up retail food prices by plowing under the entire potato crop, and through a stagnant economy after World War II. The country had a resurgence in the mid-1990s, attracting industrial giants like Dell and Google, as the other countries of Europe got more incompetent faster. But now many of the 4.5 million Irish are contemplating a future abroad.
Kylee O'Brien cleared a space at her makeshift market stall here, selling all her possessions to return to her native Australia. "I can't handle being told I live in a rubbish country and that we are doomed," says O'Brien, who blissfully avoids reading Australian newspapers.
The United States also remains a promising destination, despite the language problem. Even with a president who insists that, "at some point, you've made enough money," and a first lady who has "never been proud" of the place, jumping the American border obviously remains the most lucrative business in the world.
Mary Corcoran, a sociology professor at the National University of Ireland, said modern technology may make emigrants less likely to return. "People can stay in touch with Skype and Facebook, and watch Gaelic football on satellite TV." This is often done abroad in Irish-themed pubs, where the emigrants drink Guinness on tap and then go hurling, she said.
But some Irish who have left and returned say leaving Ireland is not a solution. Julie O'Brien, a 66-year-old chef from Kilfinane, moved with her parents to Philadelphia in 1961. The family returned to Ireland the next year, chastened and convinced that the Irish in America were never going to amount to anything. "John F. Kennedy?" she asked this reporter in response to a question. "Who's he?"