More can be done to assist returning emigrants, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Limerick Deputy Tom Neville argues that as we restore Irish society in tandem with the recovering economy, we must ensure we help those who wish to return to Ireland from abroad.
Deputy Neville said: “Now that the Irish economy is really recovering and with job creation in every region of the country, we are seeing increasing numbers of people considering returning home from the forced emigration they endured during the recession.
“Due to the economic crash, the last decade saw the emigration of almost 360,000 Irish people. Thankfully in 2016 we returned to net inward migration owing to our recovering economy and increased job creation.
“This should be encouraged and promoted as it will reunite families and strengthen communities right across the country. Many people did not want to leave but were forced to do so as unemployment soared between 2008- 2011, thanks to the economic catastrophe we experienced here.
“This year a report by Indecon highlighted a number of the issues faced by returning emigrants. It is time for Government to take action in a range of areas to smooth the transition home for people who had to leave this county.
“A major issue for people and families trying to return to Ireland after a period of emigration is housing. We are all aware of the problems in our housing and rental markets, a result of the economic crash, and I know these problems affect everyone as well as returning emigrants. The Government is doing its utmost to alleviate the situation, mainly by increasing supply of social housing and wrong to create the conditions whether by supply of private housing can be increased.
“However we must address the issue of returning emigrants being excluded from the Help to Buy Initiative, a first time buyers’ refund. Many people who emigrated were young and as the Indecon report shows, are probably more likely to be first-time buyers and may have lower levels of savings and assets. Currently, they have to wait until they have completed four years work here before they can avail of the scheme.
“Another case in point is the area of motor insurance, which is proving hugely costly for those who have lived abroad for a number of years. Whatever about the need to get an Irish driving license if you didn’t hold one previously in this country, there is absolutely no rationale for charging higher insurance premiums to people who didn’t live here for a number of years. Your driving experience is your driving experience no matter where you do it.
“Another problem for returning emigrants is the issue of health insurance. People often find they’re faced with very high premiums as they have not lived here in recent years. Perhaps we need to look at incentivising companies to allow people to transfer credits from their health insurer abroad.
“Emigrants returning to this country is positive both for the economy and more importantly society. We must do more to encourage and promote this.”
“An initiative to help returning emigrants start and develop businesses in Ireland has been launched recently, which is very welcome. The aim of this initiative is to support entrepreneurial activity among emigrants who have lived abroad for at least a year and have returned in the last three years. Those planning to return in the near future will also be considered. I encourage people to get their applications in at www.backforbusiness.com- the closing date the 25th of January.”