January 2008

  1. Welcome
  2. Issue spotlight: Returning gay emigrants and civil partnerships
  3. RTE to shut down medium-wave services
  4. Information request: Are you seeing more recent arrivals?
  5. Seeking "Over Here" resource pack
  6. DFA launches charter, registration facility
  7. Events: "Children and Migration" at UCC
  8. On our website


Welcome to Ean's newsletter. We send out this email bulletin to keep you informed about issues affecting the Irish abroad as well as those intending to emigrate or to return.

A reminder! Have you seen the podcast of our December AGM? All the presentations are available for downloading from our homepage at www.ean.ie.

Your suggestions are welcome! If you'd like to share any aspect of your work, or would like to alert those working with emigrants about any issue that may affect them, or just have thoughts you'd like to express, let me know at noreen@ean.ie.

Thanks! Your feedback will help our newsletter to grow and develop. - Noreen Bowden

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Issue spotlight: Returning gay emigrants and civil partnerships

Do you know anyone who feels unable to return to Ireland because they cannot bring their lesbian or gay partner with them? Ireland does not currently allow people to bring their homosexual partners with them, because it does not legally recognise civil partnerships - but legislation expected to be introduced this spring may change that.

Gay activists have said that heterosexual and homosexual couples should be treated equally in immigration matters. Eoin Collins of GLEN (Gay Lesbian Equality Network), which has been campaigning on the issue, says, "We have been arguing strongly for equality of treatment between married opposite sex and same sex couples in all areas, especially immigration regulations, as lack of recognition here can lead to separation and loss." He says that sometimes people have contacted his organization to determine whether there has been progress made on civil partnership for same-sex couples.

He adds that there have been Irish lesbian and gay people who have returned to Ireland with their partners from the US, Australia, Canada, or other places, "but face serious difficulties in remaining here because of the uncertain legal status of their partner". Sometimes people have moved to the UK, where same-sex partners are recognized in immigration regulations.

Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan said last fall that he would publish an outline of his proposed legislation by March 30. However, he said it would become law in the lifetime of the current Government, which could mean that it would be a number of years before it takes effect. A Government spokesperson said the legislation would recognize a variety of relationships, even beyond romantic ones; it would give legal protection, for example, to brothers and sisters who share a home.

Those from Northern Ireland face no such impediment, as same-sex partners are recognized in immigration regulations there. Legislation allowing civil partnerships in the UK was passed in 2005.

Do you have any comments on this issue? Let me know at noreen@ean.ie.

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RTE radio to shut down medium-wave services

RTE has announced that it will shut down its medium-wave service, in a move that will affect some Irish who reside overseas. The station says it is shutting down the service in order to save money, and notes that there are plenty of other listening options, including internet and satellite.

While most listeners are served by FM, there are some people who will need to switch to long wave as they live in areas where the FM signal doesn’t reach. About 10% of Radio 1 listeners tune in on medium wave, among them a disproportionate number of elderly people and people in remote areas, particularly in Northern Ireland, where the FM signal doesn’t reach. Several Northern Irish nationalist politicians have been among the most vocal opponents of the move; one SDLP Assembly member questioned whether the station could make the move under the Good Friday Agreement.

An RTE press release noted that:

"RTE is acutely aware that listeners in Northern Ireland and the Irish community in Britain need access to Irish news, current affairs and culture. This is why RTE has decided to maintain its LW 252 service, which provides approximately 80% coverage in Britain. RTE, unlike other broadcasting corporations, does not have the population or resources to support three frequencies, which are expensive to operate."

At EAN we have some concerns that there will be some older Irish people abroad who will have to purchase new long-wave radios in order to continue hearing Irish radio. An RTE press release noted that the broadcaster would assist those most in need with a voucher system to provide half-price long-wave radios. When queried as to whether these vouchers would be made available to the Irish in Britain, an RTE spokesperson said the measure was aimed at the most vulnerable among their listeners, but they would not be available to people outside of Ireland. I will continue to follow this up.

I am eager to hear your thoughts: will RTE’s move affect you or any of your clients? Let me know at noreen@ean.ie.

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Information request: Are you seeing more recent arrivals?

A recent article in New York’s Irish Voice has said that there has been an increase in the number of young Irish people arriving in New York to seek work. ()It suggests that a slowing economy may be the blame. What’s it like in your part of the world? Are you seeing more recent arrivals?

Let me know and I'll share the information with our members in our next newsletter. Drop a line to Noreen@ean.ie. Also let me know if there's any other issue you'd like more information on!

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Seeking "Over Here" video

We’ve had a request for the resource pack, "Over Here", which was produced by Emigrant Advice in 1989. A library here in Ireland is looking for it. The Crosscare Migrant Project (formerly Emigrant Advice) no longer has a copy. If you or your organisation has a copy, perhaps you might let me know at Noreen@ean.ie

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DFA launches charter, registration facility

The Department of Foreign Affairs has launched two new services on its website, aimed at those travelling or resident overseas.

The first service is a Consular Services Charter for citizens, called "Travel Safely, Slán Abhaile" - a document setting out the range of services provided by embassies and consulates abroad, as well as advice on steps to take before travelling abroad.

The second is an online travel registration facility for Irish people resident or travelling abroad - aimed particularly at those travelling to remote or dangerous locations, and at improving the DFA’s capacity to locate Irish citizens caught in a major crisis or family emergency.

In launching the services, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said, "As people travel more frequently, the demand for our Consular services has increased.This new service will significantly improve our capacity to locate and connect with Irish citizens caught up in a crisis and to get assistance to them. It also will improve our ability to provide timely and accurate information to their relatives in Ireland." See more information on our website.

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Event spotlight: Children and Migration, UCCC

The Marie Curie Migrant Children Research team at the Department of Geography, University College Cork will host "Children and Migration: identities, mobilities, and belonging(s)" from April 9 to 11, 2008.

Organisers are aiming to provide an integrated and interdisciplinary forum for discussion of recent research and policy developments from a wide range of perspectives, with a common focus on children’s own experiences of and perspectives on migration, diaspora and transnationalism.

More than 80 papers will be presented by researchers from over 20 countries across a variety of disciplines. Papers, lectures, panel discussions and posters will include topics such as transnational childhoods, children and the asylum system, second generation youth, diversity and education, multilingualism, and children’s rights. The event is funded by a Marie Curie Excellence Grant.

Keynote speakers will be Katy Gardner of the University of Sussex on "Diasporic childhood: transglobal children in east London", and Jill Rutter of the UK’s Institute for Public Policy Research on "Changing patterns of child international migration in Europe: challenges for research, public policy and practice".

See the conference website

See more on this and other upcoming conferences in our website's Events section.

Have an event you'd like to publicise to our members? Drop a line to noreen@ean.ie

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On our website

Stay on top of emigrant-related news and media in Ireland through our Newswatch section on our website. Through this blog-style feature we track media articles related to emigrants, with brief posts and links to additional information.

Here are links to a few of the latest articles:

Irish immigrant in NY fights extradition
Actress at odds with US-Ireland Alliance on visa campaign
Free travel a no-go, says Minister
Independent explores lure of Spain
Irish activist challenges Republican candidate
Emigrant film dominates Irish awards
Never too late to emigrate?

The Newswatch section is updated several times a week. Feel free to send on suggestions!

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Ean - Ireland's emigrant network