Migration

0
Have your say

Immigration and the refugee problem are common topics of conversation just now. Day after day we see destruction and death in the Middle East.

Immigration and the refugee problem are common topics of conversation just now. Day after day we see destruction and death in the Middle East.

Derry recently welcomed a small group of Syrian refugees. We know what immigration means: a countless number of people have gone – and still go- from this country to other countries to create a better life. And we now have a new phenomenon: people settling down here from the time of the Celtic Tiger.

Today I am writing from Glasgow- a great immigration centre. Various foreign groups came to the city during the 19th century: Jews fleeing from Russia, Italians, and Irish people, of course, especially after the Famine. People also came from the Scottish Gaeltacht where they had been evicted from their crofts. Immigration continued during the 20th century, notably after the Second World War. From the 50s onward, many people came here from India and Pakistan. Recently thousands have arrived from Eastern Europe.

No group has had an easy time. My father spent most of his life working as a labourer on building sites at first and then in a foundry. There was no mention of health and safety in those days. The immigrants did menial work that local people were not prepared to do.

Matters improved in the course of time. The immigrants moved out from the centre of the city to the suburbs. They got better houses. Their children were able to get a good education and some entered the professions. They took part in the life of the community. Glasgow became richer economically and culturally because of immigration. When you think of it, in Ireland we are all descendants of immigrants. The first settlers came here from Europe. The pure Irish person is only to be found in silly Irish books.