School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Briefing Ireland’s President on emigration

Dr Enda Delaney was invited to a private meeting with the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, at his official residence in Dublin last week.

President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins with Dr Enda Delaney

There is a long historical tradition of emigration from modern Ireland and Dr Delaney, who is Associate Director of our Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies, has written extensively on this subject.

As Dr Delaney explains:

“Ireland is experiencing an emigration crisis, as thousands of people leave the country every week, due to the deep recession and dramatic cuts in public expenditure that resulted from the country’s financial crash in 2007.

“President Higgins has spoken on many occasions about the need to ensure that the Irish diaspora remain at the forefront of public consciousness”.

The meeting at Áras an Uachtaráin covered a range of subjects. President Higgins was briefed on the parallels between the 1940s and 1950s and the contemporary situation, the effects of emigration on both individuals and the country at large, and the complex story of how the Irish fared in post-war Britain.

Parallels between past and present

After the meeting Dr Delaney commented that:

“For any Irish citizen to be invited to meet the President is a great honour, and this was especially so since President Higgins had many insights to offer into the nature of Irish emigration and how Irish identity was shaped by the continuous movement of people out of the country”.

The Irish in Post-war Britain

‘The Irish in Post-war Britain’ - Dr Delaney’s book on the ‘forgotten’ Irish who settled in Britain in the 1940s and 1950s - has recently been re-issued in paperback as part of the current debate on the causes and consequences of emigration.

Dr Delaney has also contributed to the public debate on emigration, writing opinion pieces for the ‘Irish Times’ Generation Emigration blog.

Dr Delaney’s profile page