I wish someone had told me ten years ago when we felt obliged to flee Ireland because of mutual economic ruin that ‘sponging’ would become a taboo topic and calling anyone, even spongers a sponger would be frowned upon and be the source of massive consternation among the snowflakes, the millennials and the do-gooders in general. I could have become a sponger and life would have been so much different. We could have taken the help at the time, handed back the keys of “Satis House”, rented next door under the HAP scheme, dabbled in a few government schemes and courses before possibly obtaining long term assistance status due to associated and ongoing anxiety issues or such like. Now, we’d have state health care benefits, our children could attend college for free and we’d could take solace in the fact that we were on course to receive the old age pension and live out our lives in the evidently green pastures of Ireland.
The reason we left, because we thought it best to head off, fend for ourselves rather than sitting back, sponging off the social welfare. Of course and needless to say, sponging is not getting a helping hand until you get on your feet, sponging is continuing to take the helping hand long after you should be able to make an effort to support yourself. Unless of course you live in Qatar and then this definition doesn’t hold, because in Qatar, there is no helping hand so subsequently, no spongers either.
Back in 2010, we up and left, told Ireland it was not a bother and we didn’t want any thanks or recognition for it. We knew the state had a lot on their plate and feeling that we were able bodied and well minded, we felt it only fair and the least we could do to excuse ourselves for a few years until the economy got back on its feet, at which point we’d return. After all we were Irish, fully Irish, as are our four children and apart from the fact that we like Ireland and identify as Irish it is natural we’d go back, where else would we be? Qatar might consider us residents but we would need to change religion, attire and marry Qataris to even be considered citizens.
If I’m honest, I thought it was fairly sound of us to leave and even sounder of us to be willing to come back. Every day we hear that qualified and experienced professionals are migrating but here we were having spent a good few years repaying our debt of education via taxation, willing to dodge the live register and the cherry, willing to come back and work again and participate again and pay tax again. I thought we were being very fair. I thought Ireland would be …delighted at most, possibly grateful and at very least accommodating.
How wrong was I? The past two years, has revealed exactly how Ireland feels, our Irish born daughters who lived in Ireland for the first ten years of their lives, gained primary education in Ireland and secondary in the Middle East, are returning to Ireland for university only to be greeted with an icy reception. Without having sent them home and sponged off the secondary system for the past three years, they are not allowed enrol in University as Irish citizens and the very best option for them is to enrol as EU students.
My husband or I are not entitled to healthcare. We will not be entitled to a pension. Our younger children do have PPS numbers and our teenage daughters clearly not entitled to third level. Fair enough you might say, we haven’t been paying tax, but we have been draining the system either. There are no allowances made for re-integration, from what I can see, absolutely none, no temporary housing, no social welfare payment and not even an affordable car insurance and the salt in the wound no recognition for our kids in the education systems.
It seems the only way to gain a welcome into Ireland is to arrive seeking the protection of a politically correct Ireland who are too pc to call a sponge a sponge. To arrive home seeking helpful reintegration for us or the next generation, that’s just not an option.