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St. Michael's College

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Ireland: Transformation of Social and Political Conflict


Introduction (excerpt) Over the last fifteen years, Ireland has undergone massive change: political, economic, social, and technological. During the Celtic Tiger that began in the mid 1990s, Ireland has been transformed from one of the poorest countries in Western Europe to one of the wealthiest. Resulting from this economic success and, concurrently with the expansion of the European Union, there has been a significant increase in Ireland’s migrant population. Due to the recent attraction of Ireland’s prosperity and progression, many from outside of Ireland have immigrated with hopes to reap economic and social benefits. Others are forced to migrate due to danger, perils, and political unrest in their home country. Ireland’s membership within the European Union creates the opportunity for refugees and asylum seekers to arrive on the island, which has raised many issues that the Irish must address. Asylum-seekers and refugees come to Ireland on the basis of varying circumstances as opposed to economic migrants who hope for better and bountiful employment. These refugees and asylum seekers have been forced out of their homelands due to danger of persecution, torture, sexual exploitation, or subjection to other human rights violations (Moolen 2006:8). Initially, I tailored this study to focus on the experience of “separated children” in the North Dublin area and how they are integrated into Irish society. “Separated children” are part of a specific category of asylum seekers who are unaccompanied children (without parental or guardian supervision) and who are seeking refuge from their country of origin which poses imminent danger. Prior to obtaining research, I developed an investigation on how separated children are integrated into Irish society and what aspects of Irish identity are conveyed to them. Quickly I found that this premise, though intriguing, would not be a practical endeavor to pursue. Many difficulties discussed in the Methodology section highlight some of the issues that essentially redirected the research. “Aged-out minors” are asylum seekers who have arrived in Ireland under the status of “separated children” and yet have not received notification of status throughout the asylum process before they turn 18 years of age (Moreno). After researching and speaking with a few aged-out minors, I have realized that this issue is largely ignored by Irish society and that there are many difficulties and obstacles that arise for those who find themselves in this “liminal stage”. Therefore, I decided to focus on the difficulties aged-out minors face once they turn the legal age of 18 years old and how this affects their experience of reception among the Irish. Many themes and questions have surfaced that encompassed many elements, such as the policy formulated and determined by the Irish Government; the media portrayal of asylum seekers and the influence of media on Irish society as a whole; and the supportive institutions that assist aged-out minors by filling in the voids that the government has left.


Demography, Population, and Ecology


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