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Some young people in Australia ‘giving Irish workers a bad name’

A perception that Irish workers arrive drunk and lie about qualifications is based on the behaviour of a minority, according to a visa expert.

The behaviour of some young Irish construction workers is contributing to a negative stereotype, O'Hagan said.
The behaviour of some young Irish construction workers is contributing to a negative stereotype, O'Hagan said.
Image: Elise Amendola/AP/Press Association Images

THE BEHAVIOUR OF a minority of young emigrants in Australia is causing problems for other Irish workers, a visa expert has warned.

Liz O’Hagan said that some young Irish people abuse the system by not turning up at work when required, arriving at work drunk, or lying about their qualifications. She said the problem was especially acute in Western Australia, where numerous construction jobs are on offer.

“It only takes a minority to make things difficult for the majority,” she said. O’Hagan, who works in Ireland for Australian Visa Specialists, told Newstalk Breakfast:

There is an element of people who unfortunately aren’t representing the hardworking spirit of Irish people in Australia [...] Not turning up for work on a Monday, going to work under the influence of alcohol or anything else they may be interested in, perhaps not always telling the full truth about their work experience in Ireland.

O’Hagan was speaking after the Australian Embassy condemned a post on classifieds website Gumtree seeking a bricklayer in Perth. The ad stated that “no Irish” need apply.

The businessman who placed the ad yesterday told the Irish Independent: “I’ve had lots of Irish people say they have experience bricklaying but come over and have no clue how to lay bricks.”

O’Hagan said she was “not surprised” when the story emerged, adding: “I’m hearing it on the ground all the time.”

She said she believes there is covert discrimination among many employers in Western Australia against young Irish people without families, because of the negative image they have acquired.

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Michael Freeman

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