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Dublin: 16 °C Friday 19 April, 2019
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"That's just not the country that I want to live in" - Irish immigrants worry about a future in the UK

We spoke to Irish people living in London about their worries over the referendum result.

Leave supporters celebrate opposite the Houses of Parliament in London after the referendum.
Leave supporters celebrate opposite the Houses of Parliament in London after the referendum.

HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Irish people living in England and rest of the UK woke up this morning to countries getting ready to leave the EU.

The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union in an historic move set to have wide ranging implications for Ireland and the rest of the world.

The dominant feeling being conveyed right right now is one of great uncertainty – as people scramble to figure out what exactly a ‘Brexit’ will mean for the world.

For the tens of thousands of young Irish emigrants living and working in London and the rest of England, their livelihoods and status could be on the line.

TheJournal.ie spoke to some Irish community representatives as well as people living and working in London to sample the mood after the result.

‘We just don’t know what will happen’

Ian Mclintock of the London Irish Centre told TheJournal.ie that at the moment the dominant sentiment in the Irish community was uncertainty.

3632427 Ian Mclintock Source: LinkedIn

Ian said that he hadn’t had time to properly gauge the Irish reaction but that in terms of the future “nothing is guaranteed”.

“We did testing prior to the referendum and the Irish here were primarily pro staying in the EU,” he said.

For younger people, the biggest concerns were the UK and Irish communities and jobs.

However, reflecting the wider voting trends, Ian said that of the older Irish people surveyed, two thirds wanted to leave the EU.

Ian said that only time will tell what the situation of the Irish in England will be once the UK has properly left the union.

While many believe that Ireland and the UK’s common travel policy between countries will remain, Ian said that “nothing is guaranteed”.

“It’s a different world we’re in now” he said.

Our hope is that things will just stay the same, but you can’t know.

However, he said that the relationship between the UK and Ireland was a longstanding one and he saw no reason why either country would want to change that.

“The UK has such a longstanding relationship with Ireland. I can’t see why they would damage that – but the truth is we just don’t know,” he said.

Whatever happens our job is to deliver the best we can for the community and we will continue to do that no matter what happens

“Rough seas ahead”

For young Irish immigrants living and working in London, fears over jobs, immigrant status and what it will mean for families back home are occupying their minds this morning.

“There’s an uncertainty around what’s going to happen – no really knows what the situation is,” Emmet Langan (26) told TheJournal.ie.

He moved to London in February and works in a photography studio. A large percentage of the workers aren’t from the UK, and Emmet wonders what their status will be once the negotiations are complete.

Aerial City Views - London An aerial view of the City of London. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

His primary worries rest on the plummeting value of the Pound and the uncertainty over what’s going to happen next.

“The Pound is losing all its value – Scotland are saying they want to leave and there’s talk over the border in Northern Ireland,” said Langan.

Whatever happens, there’s going to be rough seas ahead for the foreseeable future.

While he isn’t necessarily worried about his own position in the UK, Emmet Langan thinks that tighter border controls could well be introduced.

“I’m sure most people will be fine but I’d imagine there will be tighter immigration laws in the future,” he said.

“It’s very disappointing”

Hannah Little, a 26-year-old from Dublin working in freelance marketing in London, has concerns about Northern Ireland, family back home and what the vote means for UK politics in general.

“It’s very disappointing,” she told TheJournal.ie.

“There was a lot of anti-establishment votes – people just not knowing where to place their anger.”

In practical terms for Ireland, worries about costs over moving home, the decline in value of the Pound and the Northern Ireland border are at the forefront of her mind.

Britain EU Vote UKIP leader Nigel Farage. Source: Alastair Grant/AP/Press Association Images

“I’m worried about family in Donegal, how tariffs are going to affect them, and I’m worried about will it be more expensive to come home,” she said.
I don’t think we’re going to see effects for maybe a year or two years – but then again you really just don’t know.

However, aside from economic worries, concerns over what the vote means for the social and political fabric of England worry her most.

“I’m more worried about what kind of government people will vote for in the future,” she said.

“Looking at this referendum vote, there’s a lot of xenophobia, a lot of Islamophobia and that’s just not the country that I want to live in.

If there’s anything that will make me want to leave, it’ll be more societal problems rather than economic ones.

Are you living in the UK and are you happy or sad about the referendum result? Get in touch – cormac@thejournal.ie

Read: Brexit Timeline: What happens next

Read: “Now it’s our turn”: Brexit sparks hope for Europe’s far right

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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