Irish Abroad

Expat women on top of the GAA world

Australasia's Irish-born women emerged triumphant in both the ladies football and camogie contests at the recent GAA World Games.

Former Kerry All-Star Caroline Kelly, who captained the women’s football team, and camogie leader Sam McKillen of Antrim got to lift the tophies in Croke Park after their teams steamed through their tournaments proving too good for all their competitors.

Caroline Kelly, who plays with Brisbane Souths, told The Irish Echo: "It was really special. It's only starting to sink in now because the week was so quick that it was only afterwards we realised, 'that was a really special occasion and really special week to be part of'.

“Ourselves and Parnells had a really really tough battle in the final and we were so lucky just to come out on the right side of it in the end."

Kelly’s team clinched victory in the most dramatic fashion.

Australasia’s Irish-born women’s captain Caroline Kelly lifts the trophy after her team won the GAA World Games title at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Australasia’s Irish-born women’s captain Caroline Kelly lifts the trophy after her team won the GAA World Games title at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Having trailed for the entire match to Parnell's of London, Kelly stormed through to pass to Tricia Melanaphy for the final score which clinched victory: 2-7 to 1-9.

"I didn't quite realise how little time was left. I knew time was ticking and we had to attack but I don't think I realised that was going to be the last kick of the game, that was our last chance.

"It was pure joy (at the final whistle),” Kelly said.

“Those games are always the better ones to win, those dramatic matches where you just scrape it at the end, just the feeling after it is like nothing else.

"When I left and went to Australia, I thought the big games were behind me. I certainly never thought I would be in Croke Park again never mind climbing the steps of the Hogan Stand.

"What I found lovely about the whole competition was all our families were there to see us. When we're used to playing in Australia, we don't always have that and I think most of the players, after we celebrated with each other, we all went to our families and just to have them share in our joy was really special."

The camogie final was special for the McKillen family. Thirty years on from when Paul McKillen played in an All-Ireland hurling final for Antrim, he watched his daughter Sam become a champion in Croke Park.

Sam McKillen lifts the trophy after leading the Australasian Irish-born women to victory at the GAA’s World Games competition at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Sam McKillen lifts the trophy after leading the Australasian Irish-born women to victory at the GAA’s World Games competition at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Sam, of Cormac McAnallens club in Sydney, told The Irish Echo: "Of course he was proud. He's still proud, he's going round the town telling everyone, 'this girls's a world champion'.

"It was nice bringing back that memory and him seeing me win, he's ecstatic. He can't stop talking about it. The biggest thing about it all for me was I played in Croke Park, we won and I had my family there watching me. What else would you want?

"It was great to bring the cup back to Sydney. I don't think I'll ever get to climb the steps of Croke Park again but it was class. Going to Croke Park, playing in front of your family and friends, playing with those girls especially, the talent is unreal. The girls I'm playing with out there are outstanding players. The feeling is unexplainable."

McKillen and her team steamed through the competition winning many of their matches by big scores, beating Middle East by 1-10 to 1-4 in the final.

"Middle East were a great team,” McKillen said.

“The score didn't tell the full story of that game, they put it up to us. I was still fighting for every last ball like it meant everything. Even if we were ahead by a couple of points, it felt like we were behind. We did win it comfortably but credit to them as well."

Australasia also took the best and fairest in two codes, Karen Jones took the Irish-born camogie honour while Lauren Saunders was honoured in ‘native-born’ women’s football.

Australasia were also runners-up in three more codes.

The ‘native-born’ women lost out 0-6 to 1-7 to New York's Liberty Ladies. The Irish-born footballers went down 1-9 to 3-9 to Middle East. The Irish-born hurlers also lost to Middle East by 3-7 to 2-15. The ‘native-born’ footballers were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by New York Freedom.

CurrencyFair offers €30,000 prize for returning emigrant

Thinking of moving home to Ireland?

Money transfer platform CurrencyFair is offering one lucky emigrant a relocation package valued at €30,000.

The prize includes a year of rental accommodation, flights and car insurance.

To enter, Irish emigrants are invited to visitwww.currencyfair.com/comehome to tell CurrencyFair what home means to them and why the time is right to return to Ireland by sharing stories, photos and videos.

Entries for the contest close on August 31, 2019, and one deserving winner will be chosen by a panel of three independent judges.

“There are about three-and-a-half million Irish citizens currently living outside of Ireland. When you think about why they might like to come back, it boils down to a single common reason: Ireland is home,” said Jarlath Regan, creator and host of An Irishman Abroad podcast and CurrencyFair brand ambassador.

CurrencyFair’s Come Home prize will allow one returning emigrant to make a fresh start in Ireland.

CurrencyFair’s Come Home prize will allow one returning emigrant to make a fresh start in Ireland.

“The chance to win a contest like this could be life changing for someone simply wanting to come back to Ireland.”

“We know that moving to a new country — including returning to your home country — can be complicated, which is why we work so hard to ensure that moving money with us is simple, fast and safe,” said CurrencyFair CEO, Paul Byrne.

“Ireland is thriving again and it’s an exciting place to live right now, but it’s not without its challenges for returning emigrants. Our contest will help someone hit the ground running and make a fresh start at home.”

CurrencyFair has always prioritized making money transfers simple and fair, by combining the latest foreign exchange technology with 5-star, ‘excellent’ Trustpilot-rated customer service and processes that are easy to understand and use.

For each contest entry, CurrencyFair will make a €10 donation to Focus Ireland, the country’s leading not-for-profit working to prevent people becoming, remaining or returning to homelessness.

Over the past decade, CurrencyFair has helped Irish nationals move abroad by providing low-cost money transfers without compromise through its money transfer platform.

The company is focused on providing the best available exchange rates and experience for customers who need to send money and make payments overseas.

CurrencyFair’s 150,000-strong user-community have traded more than €8 billion and saved more than $366 million using the service.

Its unique peer-to-peer model and secure, state-of-the-art technology, raises the industry standard in foreign currency services for web, IOS and Android use.

The company has offices in Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, and announced plans to expand further across Asia in 2019.

US visa appeal after Cork dad is detained

Relatives of an Irishman facing deportation from the US have launched an online appeal to fund a legal battle to secure his residency.

Keith Byrne, who has been married to a US citizen for 10 years, was detained last week as he made his way to work near his home on the outskirts of Philadelphia.

The incident comes amid President Donald Trump's latest crackdown on illegal immigrants in the US.

Mr Byrne, 37, from Fermoy in Co Cork, moved to the US in 2007. He married his wife Keren in 2009 and the couple have two children - Leona, 6, and Gabriel, 4. He is also stepfather to Mrs Byrne's 13-year-old son Ezra, his family said.

Keith Byrne with his wife Keren and children, Ezra, 13, Leona, 6 and Gabriel, 4.

Keith Byrne with his wife Keren and children, Ezra, 13, Leona, 6 and Gabriel, 4.

Mr Byrne originally travelled to the US on the Visa Waiver Programme but did not leave when his permitted time in the country expired. He has been attempting to secure citizenship for around 10 years.

It is understood those efforts have been complicated by two convictions related to cannabis possession when he was a younger man in Ireland, and he had been concerned about the prospect of deportation.

Mr Byrne, who has his own painting company, was on his way to work when he was arrested by officers from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday morning.

He is now facing deportation back to Ireland, potentially later this month.

A gofundme page set up by a cousin of the family, Jeff Snader, raised around US$19,000 of a US$50,000-target within 48 hours.

Mr Snader said: "In this great country we get a lot of things right. But there is nothing right with the deportation of Keith Byrne.

Keith Byrne is in custody awaiting deportation from the United States.

Keith Byrne is in custody awaiting deportation from the United States.

"He is a dedicated member of society, a tax paying entrepreneur, a loving father and stepfather of three children, a man of the household who cares deeply for his wife and a patriot of the United States of America."

A spokesman for the ICE said: "In 2007, Keith Byrne, 37, a citizen of Ireland, entered the United States as a non-immigrant under the Visa Waiver Programme and failed to depart the United States under the terms of his admission.

"ICE arrested him July 10 for immigration violations and issued him a visa waiver removal order. He is currently in ICE custody pending removal."

 

NZ visa changes to impact Irish passport holders

New Zealand is implementing new visa requirements from October 1, with Irish passport holders among those who will be impacted.

Visitors from Ireland must now request an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before travelling to New Zealand, which tourists from visa-waiver countries previously did not need.

Irish citizens will need an ETA, which is similar to a visitor visa, to stay in New Zealand for up to three months, while Australian citizens will be exempt from both traditional visa and ETA requirements.

The authorisation does not permit visitors to work in the country.

Irish citizens travelling to New Zealand will need to apply for an ETA.

Irish citizens travelling to New Zealand will need to apply for an ETA.

To apply for an ETA, which is electronically linked to passengers’ passports and remains valid for two years, visitors must provide information such as criminal conviction history and travel intentions, and pay a NZ $12 fee.

Almost four million travellers visited the island country in 2018, which has experienced a surge in tourism in the last five years as people flock to its ski slopes and waterfront cities.

According to Immigration New Zealand, the changes are intended to enhance security, address immigration and smuggling risks, and improve the traveller experience.

Tourists may also need to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL), but Immigration New Zealand has yet to announce which travellers are required to make this payment.


Emigrants should be primary focus of new diaspora policy

The Irish government is working on a new policy for the diaspora as the country seeks to expand and improve its global footprint and influence by 2025.

The Varadkar government is looking for ideas from the global Irish family to inform this new policy.

However, as a recent visit to Australia by the relevant minister Ciaran Cannon revealed, the government has yet to settle on a definition for the Irish diaspora.

If you’re a fifth generation Aussie of Irish heritage, you have a very different existential relationship with Ireland than the 28-year-old nurse from Mayo who arrived into Sydney airport this morning.

For the purposes of this exercise, it is crucial that the nurse, lets call her Aoife, is foremost in our thoughts and informs what we can observe about the recent experience of emigrants.

Why? Firstly, because she is an Irish citizen living and working abroad, hopefully by choice. In her head and her heart she will always be Irish, no matter where she lives.

Irish emigrants have a very different relationship with Ireland than those of more distant Irish heritage.

Irish emigrants have a very different relationship with Ireland than those of more distant Irish heritage.

For the fifth generation Aussie, lets call him Kevin (Rudd?), Ireland holds an abstract place in his cultural memory. But it will never be home.

The good news for Aoife is that all the evidence points to the fact that she will do very well here.

She will get a job almost immediately. When she goes to work, she will meet others just like her. Irish nurses, many of whom, sadly, believe that Ireland does not sufficiently value their skills to pay them, or offer them the working conditions, that they deserve.

That issue aside, Aoife will most likely get sponsored and begin a pathway to permanent residency in Australia, still something that is highly desired among young Irish immigrants.

She may join one of the Gaelic football or camogie clubs or try her hand at Aussie Rules which seems to be such a great fit for young Irish women. Either way, there will be no major cultural or ethnic obstacle to her integration into Australian life.

Coming to Australia from Ireland is such a well-trodden path now that people like Aoife slip almost immediately into the mainstream.

Aoife will become part of a migrant community which, the census tells us, is one of the most successful in Australia.

When individual earnings are compared by place of birth, the Irish appear right at the top of the list. We earn more than any other European migrants.

So Aoife has nothing to worry about then? Well, not exactly.

Returning emigrants, particularly those returning from beyond the European Union, often recount negative experiences when trying to reintegrate into Irish life.

Returning emigrants, particularly those returning from beyond the European Union, often recount negative experiences when trying to reintegrate into Irish life.

What if Aoife, like many of those who came before her, becomes inconsolably homesick? What if her elderly grandmother becomes seriously ill? Does she jump on a plane? Its such a long way. What if she herself has an accident? A car crash? An unplanned pregnancy? What if she overstays her visa?

The Irish in Australia confront similar challenges to other Irish emigrants, whether they be in Boston, Birmingham or Berlin. But the tyranny of distance, in my view, compounds the negative implications and makes our situation almost unique. Our remoteness also makes it more difficult for us to agitate for recognition, support and funding from Dublin.

I think there is an excellent case to be made for additional Irish government resources to be deployed here. For example, we have seen the clear benefits of having a consulate in Sydney and an honorary consulate in Perth. Both entities have enriched the experience of Irish emigrants in those cities, not to mention the broader benefit of promoting Irish interests – a key goal of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's Global Ireland 2025 strategy.

Melbourne and Brisbane, cities with very significant emigrant populations, not to mention their own cultural and historical links with Ireland as well as economic and commercial opportunities for Ireland, are still waiting for their consulates.

If people think this is asking too much, just look at Canada, a comparable nation, which has five honorary consuls to Australia’s one.

Similarly, Australia, despite being the number one destination for young Irish over the past 15 years, receives only a tiny proportion of the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) budget, less than four per cent. More than 92 per cent of ESP funding in 2017 went to Britain, the US and Ireland itself. In per capita terms, emigrants in Australia receive less than one fifth of what their US equivalents get.

Ireland needs a policy that deals exclusively with emigration, emigrants and Irish-born citizens abroad.

Ireland needs a policy that deals exclusively with emigration, emigrants and Irish-born citizens abroad.

In terms of recognition, of the 100 Presidential Distinguished Service Medals which have been handed out to members of the diaspora by successive Irish presidents, only three have come to Australia.

Those issues aside, let me say that Irish emigrants to Australia do not, in my view, face unique obstacles beyond those which are confronted by any other immigrant to this country. The constantly shifting goalposts of the Australian immigration department may be infuriatingly complex, bureaucratic and expensive but that is not something which can be influenced from Dublin. Ireland can’t solve all of our problems.

But I think we would all welcome more open-ended government to government conversations about extending reciprocal privileges for Irish people here and Australian people there. Older migrants, for instance, may want to spend their later years in Ireland or expat families may want to bring their elderly relatives to live here. These choices need to be supported.

Similarly, it is now very difficult for the partners of Irish citizens to secure post-nuptial citizenship in Ireland. The rules surrounding this were changed only in the last 20 years and should, in my view, be revisited.

It has to be said that many of the most negative experiences that citizens abroad have confronted in recent years have come when they have returned to Ireland.

The negative response in elements of the Ireland-based media to the forthcoming referendum on voting rights for the Irish abroad in presidential elections mirrors the experience of many returning emigrants when they confront the dreaded Habitual Residency Condition when trying to reconnect to Irish life.

It seems to be particularly difficult for returning citizens who have been outside of the EU to complete simple tasks like enrolling their kids into school, applying for a homeloan, getting a drivers licence or securing car insurance. Similarly, the fact that young Irish citizens seeking to study at Irish universities are deemed to be foreign students is a problem that demands an imaginative response.

Just this week I received an email from a young Irish couple who in 2016, after five years in Australia, decided to make the big move back home.

Three months ago, they moved back to Australia.

The young mum said: “It really didn’t work out for us. They go on about how they want us back but they make things hard.”

It really didn’t work out for us. They go on about how they want us back but they make things hard.
— Returned Irish emigrant who has decided to emigrate again

So, in summary, Ireland does not need one new policy for the diaspora. It needs two.

One, a policy that deals exclusively with emigration, emigrants and Irish-born citizens abroad. It is written with someone like Aoife in mind. The experience of emigration (or even living and working abroad) sets people like Aoife apart from the broader diaspora. The goal of the policy should be ensure that Aoife has consular support nearby; that there is a well-funded safety net she can fall into and that should she decide to return home, she can do that seamlessly and with minimum fuss. She should be able to vote in all Irish elections for up to five years and her future husband, wife or life-partner should also be able to get Irish citizenship, just like her children will. Extending the voting franchise will also allow other emigrant issues to be given the political currency they deserve.

The second policy should be all about the children of Irish emigrants and their descendants. The goal should be to ensure that their cultural affinity is enhanced and their Hibernian heritage is celebrated but in a practical way that does not seek to patronise or shake

This can be achieved through increased investment in cultural programmes which support the globalisation of Irish culture. The French, through Alliance Française, and the British, through the British Council, have created successful models for just such activity. Irish music, dance, language and literature should provide more than enough content for real engagement for an Irish equivalent.

Ireland’s universities should be compelled (and funded) to participate. Done right, the policy will reinforce Ireland privileged position as a renowned centre of cultural creativitity and deliver flow-on benefits for business, tourism and the economy. If you build it, they will come.

Echo lists top 100 Irish Australians of all time

The late Jim Stynes is on of the Top 100 Irish Australians of all time as listed in the current edition of the Irish Echo. Picture: Lachlan Cunningham

The late Jim Stynes is on of the Top 100 Irish Australians of all time as listed in the current edition of the Irish Echo. Picture: Lachlan Cunningham

What do Ned Kelly, Errol Flynn and Alan Joyce have in common? Like at least one in three Australians, they are of strong Irish heritage. But they are also all included in the Irish Echo’s list of the top 100 Irish Australians of all time.

Swashbuckling Hollywood star Errol Flynn was the son of an Irish biologist.

Swashbuckling Hollywood star Errol Flynn was the son of an Irish biologist.

The list is included in the Irish Echo’s 30th Anniversary edition which has just been published in print and digital form.

The Top 100 includes prime ministers and premiers, priests and poets, medics and musicians as well as the occasional bushranger.

Fourteen of the top 100 are living including Qantas chief Alan Joyce, Sydney Swans Premiership player Tadhg Kennelly and former Australian of the year Prof Patrick McGorry, who was born in Dublin.

Also included are former Hawke government minister Susan Ryan, WIFI inventor Dr John O’Sullivan and former Chief Justice of Australia Sir Gerard Brennan.

The inclusion of former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating and former Liberal NSW Premier John Fahey demonstrates that Irish influence was not confined to one side of politics.

One of the more interesting characters to be included is Constance D’Arcy (1879 - 1950) who was a pioneer for women’s health in New South Wales and became Sydney University’s first Deputy Chancellor.

She is one of a number of trailblazing women including self-styled anthropologist Daisy Bates, famed cellist Maureen O’Carroll and Golden Globe winner Lisa Gerrard.

Dublin-born author and journalist Clare Dunne is among our Top 100 Irish Australians of all time.

Dublin-born author and journalist Clare Dunne is among our Top 100 Irish Australians of all time.

The list is broken down into six categories: Game Changers, Nation Builders, Trailblazers, Pioneers, Visionaries and Saints & Scholars.

Aboriginal Australia is also represented with legendary songwriter Kev Carmody and designer John Moriarty included.

The list includes characters from every period of Australian history since European settlement from rebel transportee Michael Dwyer (1772-1825) and convict-turned-surveyor James Meehan (1774-1826) to modern-day icons like world champion surfer Mick Fanning (whose dad is from Donegal) and football superstar Tadhg Kennelly.

The characters who gave their names to everything from the seat of Wentworth, to the Cahill Expressway, to the the SCG’s O’Reilly stand and Tooheys beer are all included.

Watch: New doco captures Sydney Irish emigrant lives

Tomás De Bhaldraithe is one of the emigrants whose life journey is told in A Lifetime Of Stories.

Tomás De Bhaldraithe is one of the emigrants whose life journey is told in A Lifetime Of Stories.

A new documentary and web project captures the amazing life stories of some Sydney Irish seniors.

The documentary, A Lifetime Of Stories, premiered at the Irish Film Festival in Sydney and is now available online. The film, devised by Enda Murray, features in-depth interviews with a number of older Irish migrants in Sydney and allows them to tell their own stories in their own words.

The participants come from the four provinces of Ireland. Pat Foley, Tomás de Bhaldraithe, Marion Reilly, Marie McMillan and Damien McCloskey reflect on their life journeys with humour and wisdom. Pat Foley, 90, left Moyvane in Co Kerry in the early 50’s and worked on the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

Damien McCloskey grew up in Derry and witnessed some of the tumultuous events in that city including Bloody Sunday in 1972. Marion Reilly is from Connemara and had the adventure of a lifetime when she travelled to Australia overland on a hippy bus in the 70’s.

Tomás de Bhaldraithe is from Dublin and is a learned Gaelic scholar and a skilled sailor of Galway hookers.

Marie McMillan is from Dublin. Marie is a skilled performer and has won numerous awards at slam poetry battles around Sydney.

Former Australian envoy's dig at Ireland over US visas

Former Australian Ambassador to the United States Michael Thawley. Picture: ANU

Former Australian Ambassador to the United States Michael Thawley. Picture: ANU

A former Australian ambassador to the US Michael Thawley has had a non-too-subtle dig at Ireland as the battle for coveted US E3 visas rumbles on.

Currently, Australians have exclusive access to 10,500 of the two-year, renewable work visas each year. But under a bill before congress, which has the support of both President Trump and Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi, Irish citizens will get access to those visas not used by Australians.

Australia’s outgoing Ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey lobbied for the scheme to remain exclusive to this country’s citizens.

Mr Thawley told The Australian that he also believed Australia had a better claim to the visas than any other country. But he also appeared to reference Ireland’s neutrality and problem of undocumented immigrants in justifying his position.

“Australia is a close ally of the US, having fought with it in every major war — not stood on the sidelines,” he was quoted as saying.

“We are a very large investor and employer in the US. And we are a strong and trusted economic partner on financial, tax and other regulatory issues. We don’t pose over-stayer or illegal immigrant issues.”

From 2000 to 2005 the English-born Michael Thawley served as Australia's Ambassador to the United States. Before that, he was international adviser to the former Prime Minister, John Howard, and served in a variety of positions in the Australian Government in Canberra and overseas.

He played a key role, along with Prime Minister Howard, in securing the E3 visa deal for Australia as part of a US-Australia trade agreement.

His comments have not won universal support amoing his former colleagues with one unnamed senior government source telling The Australian: “Immigration policy is the right of the congress of the US. We can’t get too hubristic, otherwise we will guarantee it goes through.”

During his recent visit to Ireland, President Trump was asked about the E3 visa bill.

“I think we’re going to be in good shape [on the bill]”, he said.

“I want to do that for the people of Ireland, but I want to do it for the people that are in the United States that want this vote to happen, that happen to be of Irish descent,” he added.

The Irish government has been approached for comment on Mr Thawley’s remarks.

Historic conference harvests ideas on Irish diaspora

Minister of State for the Diaspora Ciaran Cannon addresses the Link Plus gathering at the Embassy of Ireland in Canberra on Saturday.

Minister of State for the Diaspora Ciaran Cannon addresses the Link Plus gathering at the Embassy of Ireland in Canberra on Saturday.

An historic gathering of Australia’s Irish community leaders has heard a range of views about how Ireland can better connect, engage and support its diaspora.

The Link Plus conference, chaired by the visiting Minister of State for the Diaspora Ciaran Cannon, brought together representatives from dozens of Australia’s major Irish groups and organsations to the Embassy of Ireland in Canberra over the weekend.

It was the first time that key representatives of so many of Australia’s Irish community groups had the opportunity to gather and air issues of common concern.

Ideas and initiatives emerging from the discussions will feed into the Irish government’s formulation of a new policy for the global Irish community to be released early next year.

A broad range of ideas and initiatives were discussed including positive and negative experiences of the Irish diaspora in Australia, how to build on Ireland’s global influence, how to better engage those of Irish heritage and how to better connect different sections of the Irish community.

One of the key concerns, highlighted by a number of speakers, was the treatment of returning emigrants, many of whom face significant challenges trying to reintegrate into Irish life.

Problems associated with accessing social services, enrolling children in school and even getting a drivers licence, particularly for emigrants returning to Ireland from outside of the European Union, were highlighted as examples of areas in need of improvement.

The tyranny of distance was also identified as a contributing factor to the unique challenges for the Irish in Australia. Homesickness was highlighted as a potential cause of mental illness among young and not-so-young immigrants.

Australia’s Irish diplomatic corp at the Link Plus conference at the Embassy of Ireland in Canberra.

Australia’s Irish diplomatic corp at the Link Plus conference at the Embassy of Ireland in Canberra.

The fact that young Irish citizens, not resident in the state, are assessed as foreign students when it comes to third level study in Ireland was also raised as a key concern. It emerged that Croatia, another European Union nation, reserves a percentage of its university places for its diaspora was pointed to as an example of a more progressive approach.

Others called for Australia to get more funding from the Emigrant Support Programme. Only four per cent of the approximately €12 million budget makes its way to Australia. In per capita terms, Australia receives one sixth of the funding doled out to America.

Similarly, Ireland’s relatively small diplomatic footprint in Australia was identified as something which potentially puts a brake on economic and other opportunities in Australia. The absence of diplomatic representation in Melbourne and Brisbane was raised a key area for potential growth.

The successful integration of Irish migrants into Australian life was identified as a key positive. But the conference heard that both Ireland and the Australian Irish community needed to work harder to enshrine that positivity and engagement within future generations of the diaspora.

Economic opportunities emanating from Ireland’s diaspora were discussed and there was broad agreement that culture, tourism and business were key areas for development.

Among the speakers were Martha McEvoy, (Friends of Ireland, Canberra); Professor Ronan McDonald (Gerry Higgins Chair in Irish Studies at the University of Melbourne); Ned Sheehy, (President of the Australasian GAA); Clare Murphy (Celtic Club, Melbourne); Seamus Sullivan, (President, Irish Australian Support Association Queensland); Emma Hannigan (Emerald Women’s Leadership Network), Julien O’Connell (Mercy Health and Pro-Vice Chancellor, Catholic Universities), Marty Kavanagh (Honorary Consul of Ireland, Western Australia), Carl Walsh (President of the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce), Helen Waldron, (Australian Industry Group); Philip O’Sullivan, (Lansdowne Club); Billy Cantwell (Irish Echo) and Fidelma Breen (University Postdoctoral Fellow, The University of Adelaide).

The questions which were considered included:

What has been the overall experience of the Irish Diaspora in Australia?  What are the positive aspects of being a member of the Irish Diaspora in Australia and are there also negative aspects? How can the positives be built upon and the negatives dispelled? What obstacles the diaspora face?

Global Ireland describes the contribution that a large and committed diaspora has made to Ireland’s reputation and influence in the world including Australia. How do we build on this?

Similarly, diaspora links have provided economic opportunities for Ireland and for Irish people both at home and abroad. How do we support and develop those links?

How do you think that we can better galvanise the Irish Diaspora in Australia to have their interests and concerns better represented locally, and at State and Federal level. What are the examples of best practice at the moment?

There are people in Australia who have a strong interest in, and sense of connection to Ireland and Irish history and culture – our so-called Affinity Diaspora. How do we foster this interest?

Who are the Irish Diaspora in Australia and how do we ensure that their interests and concerns are equally reflected? Is there a communication gap between older and younger Irish people living in Australia and how can this be addressed?

Voting rights for Irish abroad referendum to go ahead

The same-sex marriage referendum in 2015 brought many Irish citizens abroad ‘home to vote’.

The same-sex marriage referendum in 2015 brought many Irish citizens abroad ‘home to vote’.

The Irish government has approved a plan to hold a referendum which, if passed, will allow Irish citizens living abroad to vote in presidential elections.

The poll is expected to take place in late October and the Varadkar government will be campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote.

Under the proposed change, all Irish passport holders of voting age would be eligible to vote for the President. The next presidential election is due in 2025.

The government estimates that there are 3.6 million Irish citizens outside of the Republic. This figure includes the total population of Northern Ireland (approximately 1.8 million) as well as those who have not reached voting age.

Online registration and postal voting would be used to extend the franchise, according to reports in Ireland. The campaign period would also be extended to accommodate a global electorate.

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If the proposed referendum passes, the 2025 presidential election would be the first in which Irish citizens not resident in Ireland could vote.

The referendum had been due to take place in May, alongside the divorce referendum and the local and European elections.

However, the Cabinet in February opted to delay the presidential vote.

The Taoiseach said the possibility of the vote being contentious and the uncertainty of Brexit were factors in the decision.

Speaking at the time, Leo Varadkar told the Dáil: "It will involve a good deal of planning, it needs a good campaign and we want to win it."

Ireland is almost unique among western democracies in denying its citizens abroad a vote.

Turnout in the 2018 Irish Presidential Election was as low as 30 per cent in come constituencies.

Turnout in the 2018 Irish Presidential Election was as low as 30 per cent in come constituencies.

Countries like France have global constituencies for its citizens abroad and elected representatives sit in the French parliament. Australia allows its citizens abroad to vote for up to six years after leaving the country. However, you must be first registered to vote while resident in Australia.

In 2016, a Convention on the Constitution voted in favour of extending the vote in presidential elections to Irish citizens living abroad. The possibility of citizens abroad being allowed to vote in Dáil and Seanad elections or referenda was not considered by the convention.

The wording of the referendum and the surrounding legislation is expected to be available by the end of July.

In a statement, the Irish Government said: “The presidency serves a very different function to the Dáil and Seanad. This referendum will be about reimagining a presidency for the 21st century, a presidency that represents the Irish nation not just the State, and that is elected by all citizens.”

The referendum has been welcomed by the Votes For Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA) group.

“Wonderful news that this referendum has been confirmed,” the group tweeted. “Extending the Presidential vote to Irish citizens abroad acknowledges their Irishness and puts us in line with over 30 other European countries on voting rights.”

But there has been an almost immediate backlash against the extension of voting rights with radio presenter and journalist Ciara Kelly who wrote: “It's my view that many of the diaspora look back at the old sod with green tinted glasses and see us largely stowed in moth balls at the point at which they or their parents or grandparents left. But that is not who we are. We are a young, vibrant, outward looking, progressive, liberal country. I'm not sure that is truly recognised by our ex-pats.“

She went on: “I would stick to the old rule - no representation without taxation. No vote unless you have to live with the consequences of that vote.”

Dublin emigration museum wins European tourism award

EPIC, a Dublin museum dedicated to the Irish diaspora, has won a major tourism award.

EPIC, a Dublin museum dedicated to the Irish diaspora, has won a major tourism award.

The Irish emigration museum has been voted Europe's leading tourist attraction, beating locations like Greece's Acropolis and Barcelona's Sagrada Familia.

The Dublin museum was given the prestigious award at the 26th annual World Travel Awards in Portugal.

The museum was given the distinguished award just three years after opening its doors to the public at The CHQ Building in Dublin's docklands.

Some of the competition included the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Rome's Colosseum.

Founder of Epic Neville Isdell said: "It is truly an honour to receive an award of this magnitude.

"We have thoroughly enjoyed welcoming the tens of thousands of people who have visited us both from Ireland and overseas each year and look forward to welcoming many more.

"I have always believed that the story of Irish people around the world was worth telling, and so, I founded Epic.

"When we opened in 2016, we had a vision to create a local museum that could connect globally.

"It's very important that we honour the Irish diaspora abroad and recognise the vital contributions and monumental impact Irish people have made worldwide.

"It's wonderful to be recognised for this award, thank you to those that made this possible through hard work and dedication, and to those who voted for us."

The museum, which will welcome more than 300,000 visitors this year, shows the far-reaching influence of Irish people and covers 1,500 years of Irish history.

It tells the powerful story of 10 million Irish people who travelled abroad to start a new life, including the contributions they have made, and the enormous influence they had and continue to have on the world.

The museum takes visitors on a journey of emigration from Ireland, to the far corners of the globe including America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Galleries in the interactive museum illustrate the global impact Irish emigrants have had on areas such as sport, music, dance, creativity, charity, politics, science and technology.

Visitors get hands-on with Irish culture and its past - swiping through video galleries, dancing through motion sensor quizzes, listening to remastered audio from 100 years ago and watching videos that bring Irish history to life.

Other highlights include a gallery of infamous Irish rogues, a whispering library featuring some of Ireland's most prominent Irish writers, a celebration of Irish music and dance, which includes Riverdance, and an Irish family history centre where visitors can consult with a genealogy expert to learn more about their own family history.

Former Irish dance champion found dead in London

Adrian Murphy, 43, was a champion Irish dancer and instructor.

Adrian Murphy, 43, was a champion Irish dancer and instructor.

Two people have been arrested in London in connection with the suspicious death of a Kilkenny-man who spent a number of years teaching and performing Irish dance in Australia.

The body of Adrian Murphy, 43, was found at a block of flats in Battersea, London on June 4.

A post-mortem examination at St George's Hospital on June 6 failed to determine a cause of death.

Police said property was stolen from the premises where Mr Murphy was found. They also believe he had been using the gay dating app Grindr.

Mr Murphy was a seven time All-Ireland Irish dancing champion and produced and choreographed shows like Celtic Dance Force, Feet of Fire and FireDance The Show.

He performed around the world and, according to his website, set up the Adrian Murphy Academy of Dance across Australia and New Zealand before moving back to Europe, settling in London.

He is the youngest of seven children.

His brother Frank wrote on social media that Murphy died ‘unexpectedly’ at home.

He wrote a poem, saying: ‘I am thinking of you looking at the stars. The colours that you wore of gay with pride. Influenced not by those who disapproved. Your life a whirlwind of the brightest rainbow.’

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His death has been linked to an earlier allegation of rape at an address in Walthamstow, north-east London, on May 30.

In that incident, the 40-year-old victim became unconscious after he was allegedly drugged by a man he met on a social networking site and invited to his flat.

He was found later that day by a friend and taken to hospital, but has since been discharged.

His flat had been ransacked while he was unconscious and the Metropolitan Police have said property including laptops, mobile phones and cash were stolen.

A 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder, rape and theft on June 12.

He has since been bailed to attend a police station at a later date.

A 17-year-old girl was arrested earlier that day on suspicion of murder and theft and has since been released under investigation.

Detective Chief Inspector Rob Pack, from the Metropolitan Police's Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: "We have linked these two incidents through our suspects and our inquiries continue to establish the exact circumstances.

"We know the victim in the Walthamstow incident met the male suspect through a social networking site and we are investigating whether there is a similar connection in Mr Murphy's death.”

Irish doctors fleeing Ireland for Australia in larger numbers

The number of doctors emigrating from Ireland to Australia increased from 22 in 2005-2006 to 221 in 2017-2018, a new report has found.

The number of doctors emigrating from Ireland to Australia increased from 22 in 2005-2006 to 221 in 2017-2018, a new report has found.

Australia is the primary beneficiary of a sustained exodus of Irish-trained doctors from Ireland, a new detailed study has found.

Doctors are continuing to emigrate from Ireland in high numbers and many are choosing Australia.

This is having a seriously damaging effect on the Irish health service, experts claim.

The study, called “Tracking the leavers: Towards a better understanding of doctor migration from Ireland to Australia 2008-2018”, found that even though overall Irish emigration numbers to Australia decreased as the Irish economy recovered, the number of doctors emigrating here has continued to increase year on year.

The report also points out that Ireland’s dependence on internationally trained doctors has increased from 13 per cent in 2000 to 42 per cent in 2017, and last year there were 500 vacant consultant posts nationwide.

The emigration of Irish-trained doctors to Australia is a subset of this larger migration from Ireland to Australia after 2008, the report says.

“It might be expected that doctor migration would follow the same patterns, i.e. peaking between 2011 and 2013 before returning to pre-2008 levels by 2014 as the Irish economy showed signs of improvement.

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“However, the number of Irish citizen doctors granted 457 visas increased in the period 2008-2012 and has continued to increase.

“In 2017-2018, a decade since the onset of recession in Ireland, 326 Irish citizen doctors were issued with working visas (temporary and permanent) for Australia, more than double the 153 issued in 2008-2009. This trend suggests that the migration of doctors is not primarily related to economic circumstances, which began to recover in 2013-2014, but perhaps to health system factors.”

The report, written by the Human Resources For Health group, also observed that early career Irish doctors are increasing attracted by offers of work and sponsorship for RMO/resident medical officer posts in the Australian health system.

“The number of doctors migrating from Ireland to Australia at this early career stage increased from 22 in 2005-2006 to 221 in 2017-2018,” the report found. “In 2017-2018, 221 of the Irish doctors granted 457 visas were early career stage doctors, while the remaining 86 were more senior.”

The chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s Consultants’ Committee, Clive Kilgallen, said cuts to wages during the recession have been a major factor in many doctors’ decision to move abroad.

“This is a systemic issue, in particular for consultants appointed after 2012, who could be working for up to €50,000 per year less than their colleagues who were appointed before 2012, and are doing the same job. This is grossly unfair and it is no wonder so many of them have turned their backs on [Ireland],” he told irishhealth.com.

The report also notes that in 2014, 684 Irish/EU doctors graduated in Ireland but 627 doctors emigrated from Ireland to countries such as Australia, the UK and the US.

“These figures are clearly unsustainable for our health service,” Dr Kilgallen said.

Read the full report here.

Sydney Rose Rebecca summons Anzac spirit for Tralee

Sydney Rose of Tralee for 2019 Rebecca Mazza with parents Catherine and Anthony.

Sydney Rose of Tralee for 2019 Rebecca Mazza with parents Catherine and Anthony.

Newly-crowned Sydney Rose of Tralee Rebecca Mazza was inspired by her heroic Irish great-grandfather to enter the contest.

James Daly emigrated from Kanturk, Co Cork to Fremantle at the age of 19 in 1909 where he pioneered clearing land and farming in Western Australia while raising four children with his wife.

He enlisted with the Australia Imperial Force (AIF) in 1915 and fought bravely at Gallipoli and later at Pozieres where he was wounded and unable to take any further part in the war.

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Although he died before Rebecca was born, the 24-year-old said the Irishman’s courage and strength continue to influence her family to this day.

“Without him coming to Australia and without him surviving Gallipoli and the Western Front, we wouldn’t be here. There’s this idea of where we came from and all the things that happened to make us as individuals. I often think, imagine if James got killed at Gallipoli, I wouldn’t be here,” she says wistfully.

Rebecca Mazza’s Cork-born great grandfather James Daly.

Rebecca Mazza’s Cork-born great grandfather James Daly.

“Knowing that inspires me to do as much as I can with my life because it’s so meaningful. You don’t know the impact you are going to have on future lives and that really resonates with me.”

James is something of a talisman for Rebecca and the Mazza family.

“Anytime something difficult is going on my Dad says ‘You’ve got the blood of Anzac flowing through you, so you can do anything’,” Rebecca said.

It’s a strength the family called on after Rebecca’s younger brother Tom, 21, was diagnosed with a devastating brain tumour two years ago.

Rebecca, who was raised in Perth but moved to Sydney last year, says her selection as Sydney Rose came as a welcome boost for her parents Catherine and Anthony Mazza and siblings Madeline and Thomas.

“My family are absolutely thrilled. I don’t think I’ve seen my parents on such a high for such a long time.

“They’ve been through the mill after my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He had to have emergency surgery and came out of that not being able to speak and it was just horrific.”

Tom underwent further operations and thankfully with help from speech and rehab teams, he is now fully recovered and studying nursing.

Rebecca currently works as a mobile speech pathologist helping families to develop strategies to communicate with their son or daughter who has difficulty speaking due to conditions like autism or cerebral palsy.

She was studying speech therapy at university when Tom got sick and said it spurned her on to complete her degree so she could help her brother and others like him who face speech issues due to medical conditions.The 24-year-old spent several months working in a school in Waterford in 2013 and can’t wait to get back to Ireland this summer.

“I need someone to make me laugh; I just love the Irish banter.

“Irish people are so good at communicating with each-other and telling stories. I remember coming back from Ireland and the banter wasn’t there. Australian guys lack the same level of wit as the Irish and I do miss that.

“I have a very Irish sense of humour. I just absolutely love Irish people. I can’t wait to meet all the Roses from around the world. It will be fascinating.”

But Mazza is keeping her cards close to her chest about what she will perform on stage for RTÉ’s television cameras.

“I play guitar and piano so I have a few options up my sleeve,” she joked.

Sydney Irish actor on bail after alleged assault on police

Irish actor Kieren Noonan has been charged after an altercation with police on Saturday.

Irish actor Kieren Noonan has been charged after an altercation with police on Saturday.

An Irish actor, who has appeared in the hit Aussie soap Home and Away, has been charged with a string of offenses after a violent incident in Sydney’s Cargo Bar on Saturday night.

Cork native Keiren Noonan appeared before Parramatta Bail Court on Sunday via video link charged with assaulting police causing actual bodily harm, resisting arrest, offensive language and failing to quit licenced premises.

Noonan, 32, who appeared as Spike in five episodes of Home and Away, was granted bail.

NSW police say the Noonan became "intoxicated" and refused to leave the Darling Harbour bar.

It is alleged he got into a "physical altercation" with plain-clothes police who identified themselves to him as they asked him to leave.

Police said in a statement: "The officer immediately started bleeding from the nose, while other police arrested the man and conveyed him to Day Street Police Station."

Noonan - who travelled to Australia to work as an electrician before being spotted for a small role in the soap - said he was "really apologetic", according to the Daily Telegraph.

The 32-year-old actor said he will defend the charges.

The 32-year-old actor said he will defend the charges.

He told the court from his Surry Hills Police Centre holding cell: "Your honour can I give you my version of events. I would just like to say I’m really apologetic for what happened. I would never hit anybody especially not a female police officer."

His legal aid representative then stopped him, saying: "Mr Noonan if you could refrain from talking on the public record that’s in your best interest."

A NSW police spokesman said: "The officers, who were in plain clothes, identified themselves to the man who again failed to leave the venue.

"Police will allege that a physical altercation ensued when the man pushed one officer in the chest and punched another officer in the face."

The injured officer was conveyed to St Vincent’s Hospital where she was treated for a broken nose, swelling to the face and sore teeth.

Speaking to reporters outside the police station where he spent the night, Noonan said he would be defending the charge.

“I would never hit anybody, especially not a female and especially not a female officer,” he said.

A court date for his reappearance has yet to be set.