EMIGRATION is tearing families apart and creating a new generation of lonely older people in Ireland, a charity has claimed.
Irish charity ALONE says it has seen an increase in the number of older people at an all-time low as a direct result of their children and grandchildren emigrating.
The charity’s claims follow news last week that a record number of Irish workers under 35 are set to move to Canada after more than 10,000 Canadian visas were made available this year.
ALONE CEO Sean Moynihan said: “We have even received calls from the emigrants themselves asking us to check on their older relative.
"The children and grandchildren of Ireland’s older people are emigrating in droves, leaving behind a large huge increase in the number of older people requiring our services because their support systems have disappeared.”
EU figures show Ireland now has the highest level of emigration in Europe.
The latest Central Statistics Office figures show almost 250 people leave the country daily – one person every six minutes.
With a son already in London, 70-year-old Dubliner Noeleen was referred to ALONE last year after her daughter’s family left to live in Australia.
She said: “It’s very hard, but that’s the reality I miss my two little granddaughters terribly, but they seem to be settling in well.”
Marian, who also moved to Australia after her husband lost his job, contacted ALONE as she was concerned for her elderly mother.
“My husband had been out of work since 2007 so we had to move, otherwise we would be back in Ireland in a heartbeat,” she said.
“I feel really helpless being so far away. My mam used to be so active but now with age she doesn't go out as much as she used too.
She added: “I'm so worried about her being isolated and alone in her house. She has a history of depression and the thought of her being lonely, is very difficult.”
ALONE supports older people in Ireland through its volunteer befriending and community response service.
To contact the charity call 00353 1 679 1032 or visit www.alone.ie
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