Irish Abroad

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.

ALSO READ: Two 14-year-old boys found guilty of Dublin schoolgirl’s murder

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.’

Also Read: Heaven help Australian economy, says Irish finance guru

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.

ALSO READ: Will changes to the skilled regional visa affect me?

“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.

MORE TO READ: Director defends Irish convict movie after festival walkouts

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.



Mates make sure grieving fiancee gets 'Frankie's car'

Broc Nicholson pictured recently with her Irish fiancee Francis Shanley who died earlier this month.

Broc Nicholson pictured recently with her Irish fiancee Francis Shanley who died earlier this month.

Friends of an Irish tradie killed in the M4 crash worked round the clock to finish a car he was working on as a surprise for his heartbroken fiancee.

Francis Shanley’s colleagues from Vaughan Civil in Sydney worked in secret to renovate a Subaru WRX so they could present it to Broc Nicholson at a celebration of their mate’s life on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old’s fiancee was “over the moon” when she was surprised with the car which has custom Frankie plates in honour of her partner.

Francis Shanley, from Bornacoola, Co Leitrim died when his car was hit by a beer truck in a pile-up involving eleven cars on the M4 motorway in Sydney on May 9.

A-53-year-old man has been charged with dangerous driving causing death after police allege he changed lanes and then stopped causing the fatal crash that killed Frankie.

‘Frankie’s Car’ - The Suburu WRX which was presented to Broc Nicholson by mates of her late fiancee.

‘Frankie’s Car’ - The Suburu WRX which was presented to Broc Nicholson by mates of her late fiancee.

Jamie Morrissey said his mates at Vaughan Civil “worked round the clock for the past nine days” to get the car ready for today’s ceremony at Macquarie Park Cemetery where it was presented to Broc.

“All his close friends came together to work on it –people who knew nothing about cars came to work on it because they wanted to do it for Frankie.

“It was good for us as well –it kept our mind off things.”

Frankie loved to buy cars and fix them up and he was working on the Subaru WRX when he was killed.

The car was “fully stripped” in his work yard with hundreds of parts everywhere so it was no easy feat for his mates to fully restore it in nine days.

“Frankie was an outstanding person. He was a gentleman and that’s why we did it. If it was any one of us, he would be the first person to step in and help so we thought it would be a fitting tribute to Frankie.

“He would do anything for you. Today is a very sad day for Broc but we hope we can bring a smile to her face when we surprise her with the car,” Jamie explained.

Francis Shanley’s workmates from Vaughan Civil who restored the car.

Francis Shanley’s workmates from Vaughan Civil who restored the car.

Broc Nicholson said Frankie would be “so proud” that his friends had finished the car for her.

She said: “He would be so proud and so am I. I know he’s going to be so jealous when I’m driving it instead of him.”

Family and friends of Francis Shanley who gathered for a special celebration of his life at the Camellia Chapel were told that he lived life with “love, honour, integrity and a sense of humour.

Celebrant Brett O’Brien said: “He was alert and alive. He made people laugh. He had a fearless enthusiasm for life and our world is poorer without him.”

His Australian fiancee Broc paid a beautiful tribute to Frankie.

“You’ve touched our hearts beautiful…You always knew how to make me laugh, listen to my problems, make me feel better when I was sick,” she said.

She poignantly read the vows she had written for their upcoming wedding. The couple were due to get married in August.

“You are my world. You are my rock. You are the reason I am the person I am today.

“I will hold you, honour you, respect you, cherish you and most importantly love you.

“To the most charming, funny, handsome person – I will always love you.”

The Suburu before its transformation.

The Suburu before its transformation.

Frankie’s younger sister Ruth Shanley said his family in Leitrim were heartbroken to lose him but had “beautiful memories” of their time together.

She said: “Frankie always used to look after me – he always had my back.

“He always put a smile on my face with his silly sense of humour and his cheeky smile.”

His close friend Gary Hart was friends with Frankie for over 20 years after meeting in school in Leitrim.

“There was never a dull moment when Frankie was around. Frankie was horrid craic. He’ll be sadly missed in this country and in Ireland,” he said.

Frankie is survived by his fiancee Broc Nicholson, his parents Christine and Basil Shanley and his siblings Mark, Ruth and Catriona Shanley.

He is also mourned by hundreds of people from across the globe who loved him particularly in the communities of Co Leitrim, Western Australia, Darwin, Carmila and Sydney.

Wicklow climber missing after scaling Everest

Wicklow climber Seamus Lawless is missing on Mt Everest

Wicklow climber Seamus Lawless is missing on Mt Everest

The Irish government will offer any support it can to help efforts to find a missing climber on Mount Everest, the Tánaiste has said.

Seamus "Shay" Lawless, from Bray, Co Wicklow, fell as he descended the peak on Thursday having just achieved a lifetime ambition of reaching the summit.

Simon Coveney said he had spoken to Mr Lawless's wife Pamela several times over the weekend and had discussed how the authorities could help.

The Trinity College professor's family have launched a fundraising campaign to help finance expensive search and recovery efforts.

His relatives, who said Mr Lawless's insurers were not assisting in the search, have asked for the public's help to raise the money needed to gather a team of Sherpas to find him.

A GoFundMe page set up by the family with a target of raising €750,000 had passed €250,000.

“At this moment in time we have little to no information about what happened on Thursday 16th May, nor do we know the current location of Shay,” a post on the page reads. “It is our priority to locate him and bring him home and we appreciate all the support that can be offered as we face this hugely challenging situation.”

The GoFundMe page set up for missing climber Seamus Lawless.

The GoFundMe page set up for missing climber Seamus Lawless.

Mr Coveney said the authorities in Ireland would help in any way possible.

"I have spoken to Pamela his wife on a number of occasions over the last 24 hours," he told RTE on Sunday.

"She is a remarkable woman and she is going through a nightmare that many of us simply can't imagine."

He added: "We are willing to offer any support we can, either financial or organisational, she knows that."

Mr Lawless's colleagues at Trinity College organised a vigil on Saturday evening.

The climber was an assistant professor at the university's School of Computer Science.



Fiancee's tribute to 'lucky charm Irish boy'

Francis Shanley was on his way to work when his ute was struck by a truck.

Francis Shanley was on his way to work when his ute was struck by a truck.

The fiancee of a 36-year-old Leitrim man who died in yesterday’s major road accident in Sydney has paid tribute to her “lucky charm Irish boy”.

Francis Shanley from Currycramp, Bornacoola, Co Leitrim, who lived in the Sydney suburb of Wenworthville, died following an 11-car pile up on the M4 in Sydney’s west.

His fiancee, Broc Nicholson, paid tribute to her partner on Facebook.

“Most of you have heard the devastating news of our beautiful, strong head, lucky charm Irish boy Francis Shanley has sadly passed way today,” she wrote.

“He will be forever in our hearts and sadly missed. Going to be a long road ahead getting back on our feet.

“Fly high my beautiful angel, I love you forever and always.”

The tradie, who the Irish Echo understands had lived in Australia for ten years, died at the scene of the accident after his citybound utility was struck by a light-rigid truck carrying beer kegs, about 5.50am on Thursday morning.

Mr Shanley’s family is receiving consular assistance.

The Church Street exit where the crash occurred is the final opportunity for motorists to leave the motorway before distance-based tolls apply.

Police are investigating whether a last-minute bid to exit before the toll could have been behind the crash, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It is a part of the roadway which can cause problems with people leaving the motorway to then go into the Church Street off ramp," Police Chief Inspector Adam Phillips told the paper.

Irish tradie killed in Sydney car crash

Image taken from the Nine News helicopter of the fatal M4 accident.

Image taken from the Nine News helicopter of the fatal M4 accident.

A 36-year-old Irish national has died following a major accident on Sydney’s M4 motorway this morning.

The man, a 36-year-old from Wentworthville, died after his citybound utility was struck by a light-rigid truck carrying beer kegs, about 5.50am (Thursday 9 May 2019), at the Church Street off-ramp at Mays Hill, NSW Police have said.

It’s believed 11 vehicles were involved in the crash, with five people taken to hospital for treatment to various injuries; however, only 10 vehicles stopped.

The man has not being named but his family is receiving Irish consular assistance.

Investigators believe a vehicle involved in the crash may have left the scene before speaking with police.

“While investigators are not suggesting the driver of the unknown vehicle caused the crash, they do believe they may have information which may clarify the circumstances surrounding the incident,” a NSW Police statement said.

Crash Investigation Unit Commander, Inspector Katie Orr, said police wanted to speak with the driver of the 11th vehicle to find out what they may have seen at the time of the crash.

“We want to speak with this driver to find what they know about the events leading up to the crash,” Inspector Orr said.

“We also want to speak with any drivers who may have witnessed the crash and left the area or have relevant dash-cam footage.”

All citybound lanes have now re-opened after being disrupted for more than five hours.

Thousands expected at suicide prevention walks

Darkness Into Light walks will take place in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Gold Coast and Darwin on May 11.

Darkness Into Light walks will take place in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Gold Coast and Darwin on May 11.

Up to 3000 people are expected to walk together into the dawn for the annual Darkness Into Light event in aid of suicide prevention and mental health awareness in Bondi on Saturday, May 11, 2019.

Walkers will gather at Bondi Life Saving Club at 4.30am, setting off towards Tamarama where they will head towards the cliffs as the sun begins the rise, before making their way back to the end point at Bondi Pavilion for coffee, a sausage sizzle, chat and entertainment.

The annual 5km walk initially started in Ireland in 2009 by suicide prevention charity Pieta House and has now gone global with 200,000 participants expected to walk together from Darkness Into Light in 180 cities in 11 countries around the world on May 11.

Proceeds from the Australian events, which will also take place in Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Gold Coast and Darwin, will go to Pieta House as well as Australian organisation Batyr, that focuses on preventative education in the area of youth mental health.

It's Batyr's fourth year to be involved with Darkness Into Light and has so far has enabled the organisation to run 24 batyr@school programs throughout the eastern suburbs of Sydney.

With national support by Darkness Into Light, Batyr can continue to offer a range of programs for young people across Australia that "give a voice to the elephant in the room".

For registration to the walk, please click here.

Irish-born ex-bikie faces deportation under controversial policy

An Irish-born former bikie has lost his legal fight against deportation.

An Irish-born former bikie has lost his legal fight against deportation.

An Irish-born ex-bikie, who has lived here since he was six years old, faces deportation under a controversial Australian government policy.

Paul John Pennie’s visa was cancelled in 2016 and his appeal against deportation was rejected in the Federal Court last week.

Pennie, who moved to Australia with his parents in 1980, was sentenced in July 2015 to four-and-a-half years in a WA prison for charges including possessing methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply and wilful destruction of evidence.

In January 2016, a delegate of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton cancelled Pennie’s visa, ruling he did not pass the character test due to his criminal record which included being a former vice president of the Bandidos bikies gang.

After the minister refused to revoke the cancellation, Pennie, now 44, took his case to the Federal Court but last Thursday his application was rejected.

According to the Federal Court’s transcript, Pennie has significant family ties in Australia and essentially none in Ireland. His parents, who live in Perth, are elderly and he is very close to his sister and her family.

His sister supported his appeal, telling the court that deportation to Ireland “would destroy him”.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has criticised Australia’s policy of deporting people who moved to Australia as children.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has criticised Australia’s policy of deporting people who moved to Australia as children.

In her judgement, Justice Katrina Banks-Smith referred directly to the level of access to healthcare, social welfare and housing support in Ireland which, she said, was similar to Australia.

A submission by Minister Dutton to the case asserted: “I accept that Mr Pennie departed Ireland as a young child and would experience significant difficulties in establishing and adjusting to life as an adult in Ireland. I also accept Mr Pennie's immediate family and social supports are in Australia and he may experience significant emotional and practical hardships upon return to Ireland. I find that Mr Pennie's psychological conditions may be exacerbated given his history of depression and suicidal ideation.

“However,” he added. “I find that as an Irish citizen Mr Pennie will have a level of access to healthcare, social welfare and housing support that is similar to other citizens of Ireland.”

Ireland’s Ambassador to Australia Breandán Ó Caollaí said he could not discuss individual cases but added: “Any Irish citizen who is deported to Ireland would have the same rights and entitlements as any other Irish citizen in terms of healthcare, access to housing and social services.”

He added: “The guidelines regarding the determination of habitual residence address the issue of returning emigrants very specifically. The guidelines state: “A person who had previously been habitually resident in the State and who moved to live and work in another country and then resumes his/her long-term residence in the State may be regarded as being habitually resident immediately on his/her return to the State.””

The Ambassador also said NGOs like Crosscare and Safe Home Ireland “provide advice and assistance to returning emigrants”.

Pennie, who suffers from heart failure (he suffered cardiac failure in 2014), Crohn's disease, depression and chronic pain, had claimed he feared a lack of medical care for his health issues in Ireland and that he would be homeless.

Since 2014, more than 4,000 people have been stripped of their Australian visa and returned to their country of birth, regardless of how long ago they left.

The policy has been criticised by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

In February, following a meeting with her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, she said: “I’ve made it clear that New Zealand has no issue with Australia taking a dim view of newly arrived non-citizens committing crimes … but equally, the New Zealand people have a dim view of the deportation of people who move to Australia as children and have grown up there.”

Is the Irish government concerned that Australia is compelling people with criminal backgrounds and no particular support network in Ireland to reside there?

Ambassador Ó Caollaí said: “The majority of deportations of Irish citizens dealt with by the Embassy involve comparatively recently arrived Irish citizens who have overstayed their visa and the circumstances [outlined] don’t arise.”

High salaries 'attracting emigrants home' claims Minister

Pictured at a green-lit Sydney Town Hall are (from left): Owen Feeney, Consul General of Ireland; Linda Scott, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney; Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation; Breandán Ó Caollaí, Irish Ambassador in Australia, and Sofia Hansson, director of, Tourism Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Pictured at a green-lit Sydney Town Hall are (from left): Owen Feeney, Consul General of Ireland; Linda Scott, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney; Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation; Breandán Ó Caollaí, Irish Ambassador in Australia, and Sofia Hansson, director of, Tourism Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys says the salary levels on offer in Ireland are attracting emigrants home.

“Our economy is good,” she told the Irish Echo during her recent visit to Australia. “The wages back home are attracting people back to Ireland. For that reason, there are more people coming back to Ireland than leaving right now.”

A large number of expat nurses sent a strong message of solidarity with their striking colleagues in Ireland during the recent industrial action. Protests in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth featured banners with a clear message for the Irish government: “Give us a reason to come home”.

Did the minister have a message for those nurses?

“The HSE always welcomes nurses back and has established a ‘Bring Them Home’ campaign to support nurses to make the move back,” she said.

“There are a range of incentives to encourage Irish nurses who currently live abroad to consider returning home and joining the Irish health service. Those incentives include up to €1500 in vouched removal relocation expenses including the cost of flights, nursing registration costs and a funded postgraduate education.”

The Government could not say how many nurses had taken advantage of the Bring Them Home incentives, but according to figures published under a Freedom of Information request, fewer than 150 nurses returned under the scheme in 2017.

Ministeer Humphreys with diplomatic, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland staff in Sydney.

Ministeer Humphreys with diplomatic, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland staff in Sydney.

The minister spoke at a number of events about the important role the diaspora has to play in Ireland’s future. She also opened the new Irish Support Agency offices at The Gaelic Club in Surry Hills. One way to engage Irish citizens abroad is to allow them to vote in elections. Does she personally support extending the voting franchise to Irish citizens abroad?

“This is something that the Government has looked at and we’re going to bring forward a referendum [on whether Irish citizens abroad can vote in presidential elections] and leave that decision to the people.”

Ireland is one of the few western democracies which does not allow its citizens abroad to vote.

Meanwhile, Australia is very much part of the Irish government’s plans to explore new markets to diffuse the impact of Brexit, according to Minister Humphreys.

“Diversifying our markets is part of our Brexit strategy,” she told the Irish Echo. “We consider Australia to be a very good opportunity. I know its a long distance but the world is a small place now. There are many opportunities for Irish companies here.”

She also said that Ireland provides excellent opportunities for Australian companies.

Asia’s largest fintech innovation hub, Stone & Chalk (S&C), has partnered with Enterprise Ireland, as a landing pad in both Sydney and Melbourne for Irish fintech companies seeking to enter Australian and Asia Pacific markets. From L-R: Kevin Sherry, Executive Director, Global Business Development, Enterprise Ireland; Hannah Fraser, Senior Market Advisor, Australia/New Zealand, Enterprise Ireland; Irish Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D.; Alex Scandurra CEO Stone & Chalk; Ambassador Breandán Ó Caollaí, David Eccles, Director, Australia/New Zeland Enterprise Ireland.

Asia’s largest fintech innovation hub, Stone & Chalk (S&C), has partnered with Enterprise Ireland, as a landing pad in both Sydney and Melbourne for Irish fintech companies seeking to enter Australian and Asia Pacific markets. From L-R: Kevin Sherry, Executive Director, Global Business Development, Enterprise Ireland; Hannah Fraser, Senior Market Advisor, Australia/New Zealand, Enterprise Ireland; Irish Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D.; Alex Scandurra CEO Stone & Chalk; Ambassador Breandán Ó Caollaí, David Eccles, Director, Australia/New Zeland Enterprise Ireland.

“They see Ireland as a gateway into the European Union. Ireland will be the only English language country left in the European Union when the UK leaves.”

The Minister said the fintech sector is particularly active. A number of Australian enterprises, including Macquarie Bank, are seeking licences to operate in Ireland.

“We welcome that,” she said. “Their corporate governance structures are very similar to ours. They’re happy that our government regulation is strong and we have a stable country. So they know, when they business with us, we do what it says on the tin.”

Ms Humphreys led an eight-day trade and investment mission, covering Melbourne, Sydney and Perth and Singapore. Seventy-one Enterprise Ireland client companies participated in 24 business events and pre-arranged meetings with potential business partners including Telstra, Optus, ANZ Bank, CBA, Cochlear, BT Financial, NAB Bank, Deloitte, Macquarie Bank, Stone and Chalk, and Amazon Web Services.

The minister confirmed plans to open new Enterprise Ireland offices in Melbourne as part of the Government’s Global Ireland 2025 strategy. She would not be drawn on whether the absence of diplomatic representation in Melbourne and Brisbane would be addressed. Perth has an honorary consul.

“We will continue to expand our representation through Global Ireland so whether its our agencies opening new offices or the diplomatic service, we’re always looking to increase our presence all over the world,” the Minister added.

Podcast series gives voice to Irish Australian emigrant tales

Ciarán O’Raighne has spoken to a wide range of Irish emigrants for his podcast series Lucky Country.

Ciarán O’Raighne has spoken to a wide range of Irish emigrants for his podcast series Lucky Country.

Lucky Country is a brand new podcast and national community radio series in which Irish immigrants tell their stories in their own words.

Produced by Dubliner and long-time Sydney resident Ciarán O’ Raighne, the series seeks to get to the kernel of the Irish emigrant experience in Australia.

“Lucky Country is all about Irish voices,” O’Raighne explains.

“Why they came, their trials and tribulations. Men and women from all provinces. Catholics, Protestants and everywhere in between.

“Aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and even an 82-year-old who worked on the Snowy Mountains scheme. Some grew up in the six counties at the height of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Others came in more recent years after the Celtic Tiger imploded nine years ago.

“The storytellers come from the island of Ireland and work as semi-professional soccer players, business owners, graphic designers, television producers and even a boxer who holds NSW and Australian titles.”

Harry Cummins, 83, from Dundrum came to Australia more than 50 years ago and lives in the Snowy Mountains area. He is one of the subjects of Lucky Country.

Harry Cummins, 83, from Dundrum came to Australia more than 50 years ago and lives in the Snowy Mountains area. He is one of the subjects of Lucky Country.

Putting the podcast together has been a labour of love for O’Raighne, who presents a twice-weekly show on Celtic FM under his broadcasting name, Jack Murphy.

“The Irish are known for their storytelling,” he says. “Perhaps it dates back to pre-electronic media device days, when village storytellers went from house to house to tell stories to the locals in exchange for a bite to eat and something to drink. Oral story telling was also a critical way to keep Irish Gaelic culture intact under British colonial rule.”

The Irish, O’Raighne says, also have a particular affection for radio.

In an address to the United Nations in 2016, President Michael D Higgins spoke of Ireland’s affection for the spoken word.

“Irish people spend more time than most nations listening to the radio. Our national, local and community radio stations are invaluable resources.”

The father-of-two has been in Sydney since the late 1980s and recently celebrated 25 years on the air.

Before leaving Ireland he presented arock music show on a Dublin radio station. He also worked as a news announcer in his university days.

In the late 80s, O’Raighne got his US Green Card but decided to first go on an adventure to Australia on the fledgling Working Holiday Visa. He has called Australia home since then.

He continued his passions of playing rugby and was selected to play for the Western Australian state squad and, later, played first grade for Northern Suburbs in Sydney.

He has also worked as a freelance broadcast journalist with ABC radio, BBC and RTÉ.

“The series has been made possible with the assistance of many volunteers and I’m grateful to everyone who worked on Lucky Country,” O’Raighne told the Irish Echo. “We also received some help from the Irish government’s Emigrant Support Programme together with the Australia’s’ Community Broadcast Fund.”

To access the Lucky Country series, just click here.

Jail for man who bashed two Irish backpackers

Two Irish backpackers were bashed by a man armed with a baseball bat.

Two Irish backpackers were bashed by a man armed with a baseball bat.

A Queensland man has been jailed for five years for the brutal bashing of two Irish backpackers who have been left with lifetime health issues.

Ashley John Moss pleased not guilty to grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning bodily harm but a jury in Cairns District Court found him guilty on Friday, March 15.

Moss hit Irish backpackers Owen Fogarty and Daniel McDermott in the head with a metal baseball bat after they got into an argument in front of his Mossman home in 2017.

The group of backpackers went to confront the father of three after he assaulted one of their friends earlier in the night, and the argument escalated.

Judge Dean Morzone told the court Moss' response was "grossly disproportionate, excessive and unreasonable", according to the ABC report.

"There was antagonistic behaviour between those in your yard and the tourists in response to the earlier assault and things became heated," he said.

"None [of the tourists] entered your yard and you could have retreated inside instead you took the time to collect a metal bat.”

After receiving emergency medical treatment in Australia, both Mr Fogarty and Mr McDermott returned to Ireland.

Mr McDermott lost hearing in his right ear and suffered tinnitus and seizures as a result of the bashing.

He was also on the wait list for a cochlear implant.

"His long-term prognosis is unclear," Judge Morzone said.

"He couldn't work for 10 weeks and still has a scar on his head. He also gets nervous in large groups and says he gets flashbacks to that night."

Moss broke down as he was sentenced.

"Your sister describes you as protective, kind and caring," Judge Morzone noted.

"Your otherwise good character is marred by a criminal history impacted by drugs and alcohol."

Moss was sentenced to five years in prison and will be eligible for parole on September 16, 2021.