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No Irish Here

'We only hire Australians' - The experience of Irish people in Australia

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IRISH PEOPLE applying for jobs in Australia are being told by employers that they will only hire Australians.

This was amongst the difficulties that Irish immigrants experienced while working in Australia, as revealed in the RTÉ documentary ‘Making it Down Under’ which airs tonight on RTÉ One.

Jake Haynes from Dublin gave an account of his experience:

“In Ireland I just finished in UCD, the year before I came and I thought when I came out here I would be able to use my degree. But all the places I applied for were like ‘we only hire Australian people’.

If you said that at home in Ireland – we only hire Irish people – there would be uproar.

Later in the programme, Jake, who travelled to Australia on a working holiday visa, warned viewers not to assume the move is easy, saying: “They paint this picture of ‘it’s all cocktails and beaches’ but it’s really not. There really is an untold side to the story.

Some people survive over here but some people don’t.

Philip Healy and Jake Haynes Philip Healy (left) and Jake Haynes (right), spoke to RTÉ about the difficulties of finding work.

Philip Healy, a friend of Jake’s, spoke about his difficulties – and how Irish backpackers can be exploited by unscrupulous employers.

Philip, who is from Co Louth, has been living in Australia for more than a year and has found employment with a Sydney hairdressers.

“You can get used here,” Philip says, “Some people can see ‘backpacker, get them’. It has happened to people that I know. Underpay them, work them way over the hours that they are supposed to be working, don’t get holiday pay… They will use you, they will work you into the ground but they know that the Irish are the best workers, so, they will try to get what they can out of you”.

Ireland has a strong link to Australia for years because of emigration and Australia’s past as an exile for convicts of the Commonwealth – over 2 million Australian citizens now identify as having Irish ancestry.

In 2013, an estimated 6,570 Irish people applied for skilled visas in Australia – although this has fallen to almost half of that (3,760) in 2014.

Making it Down Under airs tonight at 8.30pm on RTÉ One.

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