Bishop in diaspora call

The Most Rev. Dr. Seamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry, speaking during the launch of Catholic Schools Week. (2501PG27)
The Most Rev. Dr. Seamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry, speaking during the launch of Catholic Schools Week. (2501PG27)

The Bishop of Derry has appealed to the Irish Government to support elderly members of the Irish diaspora.

Dr Seamus Hegarty made the appeal in his St Patrick’s Day message during which he praised the Irish chaplaincy in Britain for highlighting the practice of burying the remains of isolated emigrants in communal graves.

It’s been estimated that more than 1,000 Irish emigrants have been buried in unmarked plots in London alone in the last three years.

Dr Hegarty, who is the Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Emigrants, urged the Irish Government to continue their support of elderly members of the Irish community in Britain and elsewhere.

“For a multitude of reasons, some Irish emigrants today can still find themselves isolated, vulnerable and alone.

“We must continue to support the elderly members of the Irish emigrant community, in Britain and elsewhere. Earlier this year we learned that some Irish people were still being buried in communal graves in London, without loved ones to comfort them at the time of their passing or to care for their remains. I gratefully acknowledge the work of the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain in highlighting this issue and their ongoing work, and the work of other organisations, in reaching out to the elderly Irish community.”

Dr Hegarty also highlighted the plight of many of the country’s young people being forced to emigrate due to the current economic crisis.

He said he hoped the economy would recover sufficiently to enable some emigrants, who reluctantly joined what he called the recent “haemorrhage” of emigration, to return home. He said the country’s loss of so many thousands was “an immeasurable deficit in family, community and national resources”.