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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 2 Mar 1993

Vol. 427 No. 2

Written Answers. - Irish Emigrants in Britain.

Enda Kenny


98 Mr. E. Kenny asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties being experienced by Irish emigrants in Britain due to unemployment, particularly in the construction industry, and if he will indicate the assistance, if any, the Government can give to these emigrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The primary responsibility for unemployed people in Britain rests with the British authorities. That said, the level of unemployment in Britain, which exceeded 3 million people last month, has of course, had serious implications for Irish people who make up a significant part of the British workforce. I am aware that the construction industry, which has been a traditional source of work for Irish people, appears to have been particularly badly hit by the recession.

The DÍON committee, which advises me on the welfare of Irish emigrants in Britain, has kept me advised of the severe effects of the economic climate in Britain on Irish people already there, many for a very long time. For this reason, the DÍON grant for 1993 has been maintained at last year's level of £500,000, from which I will be making grants to British-based voluntary organisations assisting Irish people there. These voluntary organisations indicate that the greatest difficulties are presented by those who have been in Britain for considerable periods; people who had apparently settled successfully and have now encountered difficulties, such as unemployment, for the first time. I know that DÍON intends to pay particular attention to this group in its 1993 grant recommendations to me.

DÍON is also generally active in representing the interests of Irish workers in Britain and in monitoring their situation.

In recent years FÁS, at the request of the Government, has greatly strengthened its links with State employment services in the main destination countries of Irish people, particularly Britain. Since 1991, the British and Irish authorities have operated, with EC support, a Transfrontier Committee (TFC) to

(a) provide support for workers seeking to move between Britain and Ireland and

(b) minimise difficulties of entry to employment and training by arriving or returning emigrants.
The main thrust of the TFC's work in relation to Irish workers in Britain is to provide effective, targeted services through the British statutory authorities. A wide range of special interventions aimed at assisting unemployed Irish people in Britain are now in place.
In general, I am satisfied that a great deal has been done by my Department and its agencies to provide services aimed at meeting the needs of the Irish community in Britain. I shall, however, be keeping the situation under review.