A NEW survey will analyse the impact of pandemic-related travel restrictions on people living transatlantic lives between Britain and Ireland.
Led by Dr Marc Scully of the Mary Immaculate College (MIC) in Co. Limerick, the research aims to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Irish in Britain and British people living in Ireland.
Dr Scully, who is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at MIC, will conduct the online survey alongside fellow MIC lecturer, Dr Sara Hannafin, from the Department of Geography, and Dr Niamh McNamara from Nottingham Trent University.
They hope their findings will “determine the impact of travel restrictions on those who would have otherwise regularly commuted across the Irish Sea to visit family and friends”.
Launched this month, the survey is open to all Irish migrants in Britain, as well as British migrants in Ireland, who may not have been home since the beginning of the pandemic.
In addition, the researchers also want to hear from the families of Irish and British migrants who may have travelled between the two countries a number of times a year under normal circumstances.
Through the responses received Dr Scully, Dr Hannafin and Dr McNamara hope to assess the psychological effects of not being able to physically access your support network across international borders and the impact of this travel disruption.
They will also look at whether the disruption caused by Covid-19 has impacted on issues of identity and belonging, and whether the advent of communication tools, such as Zoom, has seen people become more in touch with friends and family in other countries.
Dr Scully, who is the Principal Investigator on this study, explained: “The need to restrict movements for 14 days upon arrival into Ireland from Britain has caused significant disruption to those living transnational lives between the two countries.
“Through our research, we hope to record their experiences and present a more realistic picture of what this travel actually looks like, and how it is part of many people’s normal everyday lives.”
He added: “Past research in the field has indicated that transnational families are more common than many people may realise, particularly since the last post-2008 wave of Irish migration.
“Ease of transport and communication has meant that it’s not unusual for people to divide work and caring responsibilities between countries, and effectively commute between the two on a weekly or monthly basis.
“For other migrants, they may have settled into a pattern of 4-5 trips ‘home’ a year, perhaps interspersed with more intense periods of transnational travel when the occasion demands, such as caring for a sick family member.”
As Christmas approaches, the issue of travel between Ireland and Britain becomes even more pertinent.
However, according to Dr Scully, “while this aspect of travel at Christmas is definitely important, and will be badly missed by a lot of families this year, it’s important to note that transnationalism isn’t just for Christmas".
“From our early conversations with people in this situation, it seems that the perceived ability to go home at short notice is as much of a factor as the travel itself – thinking “if I need to be home by tonight/tomorrow, I can be”.
“This seems especially important for migrants and their families in times of family health emergencies and bereavements, which of course has been sadly relevant during the pandemic.”
The survey is now open and will close on January 8.
Take the survey here.