London Streets Not Paved With Gold


About this Item

In 1985 the number of young Irish people emigrating to London is increasing. What can they expect in their new surroundings?

  • Title
    Irish Emigrants In London
  • 1st Broadcast
  • Contributor
    Andrew Kelly (Reporter)
  • Clip Duration
  • Material Type
  • Series title
    RTÉ News
  • Clip title
    London Streets Not Paved With Gold
  • Extended description

    A female employee of a social agency in London points out some of the harsh realities for young Irish people who come to the city. She is critical of the British government for eroding the welfare state.

    RTÉ reporter Andrew Kelly on how social services in London have struggled to cope with the increasing number of young Irish people arriving. These young people soon find themselves as past of the queues for jobs, social welfare and accommodation. 

    At one stage at the one hundred bed Conway House Hostel there were forty Irish men queuing for each bed. Despite the foundation of the Action Group for Irish Youth emigration has continued to rise. As emigration has increased so too have the social problems.

    A spokesman for the Action Group for Irish Youth sums up the research from a recent report on Irish immigrants coming to London. He describes how young people seek out an existence.

    Andrew Kelly outside The Irish Centre in Kilburn says that the report has found that three quarters of those coming to London are homeless and come with less than £100 and they end up on the streets, in squats or hostels.

    Two young Irish men recount their experiences of seeing Irish people trying to cope with living in London.

    A Scottish speaker at a conference gives a description of a typical young Irish immigrant. "If I have an impression of an Irish youngster coming to the night shelter he would be from Cork, and it would be he I am not just being sexist on that it would be he. He would be unemployed. In talking to them they would see life as dead end in Ireland. The opportunities of real work minimum.  The opportunities for real independent living they see as non existent. They would also talk in terms of the tight family background and having to get away from that in Ireland. The response being to move across the water." He goes on to explain that jobs are hard to get in London as well.

    Another young Irish emigrant describes why he wanted to leave and says he would have swam if he had. He outlines how he moved from the street to hostels to squats. The report finishes with three young men who are squatting in a Brixton flat describe how they broke and how long it will take before they have to move when the authorities catch up on them.

    Andre Kelly sums up his report saying, "And so the English welfare system solves problems for the Irish government but how long can it last and how long will the English man on the street put up with it?"


  • Information

    A report made for RTÉ News on the problems of young Irish people who emigrate to London.  

  • Local keywords
    Emigration, Emigrants, London, Housing, Employment, Social Welfare, Social Services, Unemployment
  • Geographical coverage
    Ireland, Kilburn, Brixton, London, England
  • Topic
    Society and Social Issues
  • Publisher Broadcaster
  • First broadcast channel
    RTÉ One
  • Production year
  • Country of production
  • Original identifier
  • IPR restrictions
    Rights Reserved - Free Access
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  • Item type
  • Item colour
  • Item sound
  • Aspect ratio
  • Language used
    English (eng)