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Many emigrants fled Ireland because they were the victims of sexual abuse

Physical and sexual abuse and parents with alcohol or drug problems were listed as some of the main reasons why people left Ireland in the past.

Image: irish passport via Shutterstock

ECONOMIC PROBLEMS WERE not the only reasons why Irish people decided to up and leave the country in the past.

Physical and sexual abuse and parents with alcohol or drug problems were listed as some of the main reasons why Irish people emigrated.

The findings are from a recent ESRI report that looked into the causes and consequences of migration through the experience of Ireland’s older people.

Data from over 8,000 people aged 50 and over and who had returned to live in Ireland was collected between late 2009 and early 2011.

Abused as children

The survey found that 16 per cent of men who lived outside of Ireland for up to 10 years had experienced physical or sexual abuse as children. For men who had stayed in Ireland, the corresponding figure was just under 10 per cent.

While 13 per cent of men who lived outside of Ireland for between six months and 10 years indicated that their parents had alcohol or drug problems, when compared to 7.5 per cent of stayers.

A similar pattern is seen for women who were categorised as short-term migrants – 13 per cent had experienced physical and/or sexual abuse when compared to eight per cent of women who decided to stay in Ireland.

Alcohol abuse

Both categories of men indicated they had experienced stress in their lives, with the return migrants more likely to have suffered from alcohol problems.

This was also found to be the case for female migrants who had lived outside of Ireland for less than 10 years. However, women who had lived outside of Ireland for 10 years moved to employment and to live economically independent, which they could not do in Ireland.

Social isolation

The findings of the report also indicates that social isolation is a feature of the lives of Ireland’s return migrants.

Between 45 per cent to 62 per cent of men (depending on the length of time back in Ireland) were said to be socially isolated. This compared to just over 30 per cent of those who have never left.

For women who stayed, a third are modestly or mostly isolated, which compares to between 39 and 46 per cent of return migrants.

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