Erin Go … Anywhere Else - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Erin Go … Anywhere Else

Erin Go … Anywhere Else

By Fiona Zublin

Revelers grin during Dublin's St. Patrick's Day parade.
SourcePaul Faith / AFP / Getty Images


Because the natives are restless.

By Fiona Zublin

Everyone wants to be Irish today, but that doesn’t mean the country’s natives are happy at home. The Emerald Isle leads other OECD countries on the number of native-born people currently living abroad, with 17.5 percent trying their luck elsewhere.

Ireland saw high immigration numbers while the Celtic Tiger roared, but as the economy tanked, emigration soared, and the population shrank. Millennials are the hardest hit by recession, with 15- to 24-year-olds facing a 19.2 percent unemployment rate — down nearly 7 percent from 2014 — that’s driven the number of 20- to 24-year-olds living in Ireland down 34 percent since 2009. 

But maybe they can go home again. Nearly 70,000 people applied for Irish passports through Ireland’s London office last year, and officials say the numbers spiked even further when British Prime Minister David Cameron was negotiating with the EU — likely signaling fears of losing European citizenship to a Brexit vote. An Irish passport could become a precious commodity for U.K. citizens (and their companies) who want to continue moving freely through Europe’s Schengen Area even if Brits vote to leave the bloc on June 23.

While many hope a Brexit would leave the Common Travel Area between the U.K. and Ireland intact, there’s no guarantee, and the Central Bank of Ireland is gearing up to host London-based financial firms that may soon be looking to island-hop. If the British invasion is big enough, it might even bring Ireland out of recession — and help bring some of Erin’s young people back to the fold. 

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