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Noonan under fire from bishops after emigration comments

Emigration no longer a ‘lifestyle choice’, one cleric said – adding many people are being forced to leave Ireland.

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

A GROUPING OF Irish bishops have rejected Michael Noonan’s controversial claim that emigration is a ‘lifestyle choice’ for young people, saying many are being forced to leave.

Bishop of Clonfert John Kirby said moving abroad may have been a free choice during the Celtic Tiger years, but the reality was now very different. He added:

Sadly, for many Irish people today emigration is not a lifestyle choice, but a necessity. Our new emigrants are forced to leave behind family and loved ones because of circumstances outside of their control.

The Finance Minister sparked controversy when he claimed during a media briefing last week that most emigration by young people was a “free choice of lifestyle”, adding that the flow of emigrants was “not being driven by unemployment”.

He later said that he had been “quoted out of context”.

Bishop Kirby, the chair of the Irish Bishop’s Council for Emigrants, said emigrants did not have an easy life and faced “loneliness and isolation” as they moved abroad. He added that Catholic chaplancies in the UK, US and Australia are all seeing increased demand for welfare services and advice.

“Many of the problems presenting are similar in nature to those we have dealt with in previous generations,” he said.

More: Noonan on emigration comments: ‘I am being quoted out of context’>

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Michael Freeman

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