IRISH emigrants are avoiding the north of England in their droves.
Figures show that less than one-in-five new arrivals from the Republic are registering for work in the north where once flourishing centres of Irish migration are no longer being replenished.
Of the 12,790 national insurance numbers registered to Irish people in England in 2011, 82 per cent were to those living in the south, with 55 per cent of the total recorded in Greater London by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that an Irish presence in many regions is largely being provided by Irish students attending university.
Members of Irish centres in Coventry, Huddersfield and Leeds who spoke to The Irish Post suggest a gulf between older emigrants and the young is due to the decline of an Irish workforce.
Kerry man Joe Moran regularly visits the Huddersfield Irish Centre. He says: “There used to be a big Irish community here but they haven’t been replaced. There is no work now, that’s the trouble. There are young Irish that use the centre here but they are in the universities.”
Census figures dating back as far as 1981 also point to a notable decline.
In 1981, more than 200,000 Irish-born people lived in the north of England.
This dropped to just over 150,000 in 2001 and fell further to 127,302 by 2011. This drop-off is running at 39 per cent in the north, a rate of decline running nearly 10 per cent higher than for Irish numbers in the south.
The recent death of Margaret Thatcher has reignited discussion around Britain’s north/south economic divide and how that division shapes Irish migration trends.
Experts in Irish migration studies say trends have always followed the lead of the labour market.
Special Report in print edition of The Irish Post