It was St Patrick's Day earlier this week. If you live in an English-speaking country, you will have noticed by the plethora of plastic Paddies pouring into and stumbling out of fake Irish bars. It is romantic to claim Irish ancestry and to hark back to the Emerald Isle. Statistically, many more people have English heritage, and yet they don't bang on about it as it isn't trendy, and far fewer people know the date of England's patron saint Day.
Don't get me wrong; there are a lot of true Eireann folk out there (or here) and they do indeed celebrate their national day, as well they should, but they are the ones who don't wear stupid hats exhorting strangers to kiss them by dint of their ethnicity, or put green food dye into everything. The population of Ireland is apparently 6.3 million, but there are an estimated 80 million people around the world with Irish forebears. In Australia, those of Irish descent are of a higher percentage of the population than in any other country.
Similarly, when hordes of uncouth Aussies drape themselves in flags while overseas and insist that their country is the best in the world, one wonders why they are all working in pubs in London then. Brits abroad also have a terrible reputation for boorish behaviour. There seems to be a need to flee your own country and then assert its supposed superiority elsewhere. While this is admittedly highly annoying, it is worth remembering that many of these people were originally displaced due to horrific events such as famine, conflict, poverty and persecution.
When I became a New Zealand citizen, I did not have to renounce my British citizenship. I wouldn't have done that. Other nationalities (particularly those from African countries) did have to relinquish their birth nationality for their chosen abode. For them this must have been a huge deal as they stood solemnly in national dress and took an oath of fidelity, investing in their new future.
I respect their decision and their dignity and can only imagine how hard it must be to leave a country irrevocably behind. I am forever grateful that I did not have to and I may travel the world with my citizenship unquestioned. I know that my decision to travel is based on choice rather than necessity, and I do not have to shout this from the rooftops.
At a co-ordination meeting on international migration in 2012, Jean Christophe Dumont delivered a paper entitled Global profile of diasporas. These figures relate to that paper.
5 Highest percentage rates of emigration in OECD countries:
- Jamaica (32.8%)
- Albania (26.5%)
- Trinidad & Tobago (23.3%)
- El Salvador (20.1%)
- Ireland (16.2%)
NB: Puerto Rico, although not in the OECD had a 30.2% rate of emigration, and New Zealand comes in at ninth with 12.2%