Last Sunday night, I didn’t expect an enumerator to call to the door here in Doha with census form in hand, nor did I expect that there’d be an arrival of a census form in the post for completion by those of use who’d like to announce, ‘We’ve emigrated, just in case you ever wondered’ to those interested and still left in Ireland. I did log on a check to see if there was an online facility for those of us who are still part of Ireland but have just taken a rain check for a little while.
But alas, none, the comment under, ‘is there an online facility for completion of the form’, went like this, ‘No, not for the 2016 census. The development of an internet response option would have entailed significant investment and resource allocation which was simply not available’. Of course, the development of an optional online form would be far too complicated and expensive, better to employ 5,140 people to physically knock at the door of millions of other people and give and collect the form by hand, far more economical. (Sarcasm, for those that don’t recognise it).
Of course the processing of these millions of documents would also be a hefty task, when I enquired as to what exactly happens the data, the response was, ‘The data is scanned, recorded and checked’, now unless Adobe have developed a program that can identify several difference handwritings and interpretations, I assume that the ‘scanning and recording’ is carried out manually, how cost effective and time efficient, by the time the final count is in, another ten percent will have emigrated, (Satire there).
And of course the final step in the process, the release of the figures e.g. There are more Brazilians living in Gort, Co. Galway than in Salvador, Brazil. Un-employment figures have dropped by 42%. Home ownership is national deemed as a silly pipedream and the number of people emigrating has stabilised. What does ‘stabilised mean? Does it mean that you are no longer in danger of getting crushed at the departure gates for the Dublin/Dubai flight, now there is long but orderly queue? How would they know? When leaving Ireland, we were never asked were we off to the Middle East to pick up a few fake Mulberry bags or were we actually checking out.
Do they calculate the number of citizens missing from the 2011 census and make a reasonable assumption that 50% have passed away and 50% have emigrated! It seems that in Ireland today, those that emigrated over the past years, are dead to the government and have no place in Irish society or indeed the census. How can they report figures on emigration when we never officially checked out? If you don’t pay tax in Ireland and don’t claim employment benefit, are you invisible? Sure, there are sweeping statements made about the Irish Abroad and hypothetical open embraces offered, but the reality is, they don’t even know our names nor do they want to. (Cynicism.)
It’s not being picked for the basketball team all over again. We’re trying hard over here to keep abreast of what’s going on at home and trying hard to raise our kids as Irish, bearing in mind, they cannot, ever be a Qatari citizen, despite being born here. So it’s important for us that they feel included and counted in their homeland, Ireland, but they’re not. We all have a right to be recognised and acknowledged so why not provide a platform for the Irish abroad to fill the census online, mark our absence at least. Now, given the level of support and lack thereof we might decide that we don’t owe it to anybody to say where we are, what we’re doing or our plans for coming back so even if there was an online form for us to complete, we may not do so. After all, it’s nobody’s business but ours where or how we live, but it would have been nice to be asked, we would have liked the opportunity to refuse to participate. (Irony, Irish style)