Monday 20 January 2020

'My employers asked me to meet with immigration lawyers' - Irishman living in the UK says he feels more unwelcome each day

As Brexit negotiations trundle on is this the new reality for a lot of Irish people working in the UK?

Feargal Dalton
Feargal Dalton

Laura Larkin

A Dublin man who has spent more than half his life in the UK and is a Glasgow city councillor has said he will leave the UK if he is forced to apply for new residency paperwork after Brexit.

Feargal Dalton (45), from north county Dublin, joined the Royal Navy in 1993 after graduating from UCD. He has lived in the UK ever since and is now married with three children.

He sits on Glasgow city council as a Scottish National Party councillor, is married to Glasgow MP Carol Monaghan and teaches physics part-time.

But this week he was advised by his employers to attend a workshop where immigration lawyers are being brought in to meet with EU residents on staff who may find themselves seeking new status post-Brexit.

"While the UK was never the most enthusiastic member of the EU, I never thought this would come to pass. Not only that they would leave the EU but that they would leave everything," he said.

"I was invited by my employers to attend a workshop one afternoon that was being hosted for myself and other EU citizens to meet with lawyers and assess our situation," he said.

SNP councillor Feargal Dalton who is originally from north county Dublin
SNP councillor Feargal Dalton who is originally from north county Dublin

His employers, a Scottish third level institution, are offering legal advice from a helpful standpoint he said, adding that the education sector, much like the health services, is reliant on EU citizens.

The meeting with legal representation is likely an early push to ensure that no staff member will find themselves having to leave their job and the country.

Under current proposals, EU citizens resident in Britain will have to apply for inclusion on a "settled status" registry if they want to stay in the country after Britain leaves the EU.

While Mr Dalton knows he will not be "turfed out" anytime soon he said he will not engage with the UK Home Office in any new paperwork to meet whatever standards are settled on for non-EU residents post-Brexit.

"I'll not be filling in any paperwork for the Home Office. If it comes to it I'll leave," he said.

"I walked around Glasgow the other day and it's always been very welcoming and is my home. It's not Glasgow that's not making me feel no longer at home but I am unwelcome.

"After 17 years in the armed forces... I'm not feeling the love," he said.

He said that he is also getting fed up with people who reassure him that he will be fine and will be allowed to stay.

"I say 'what because I'm white and I speak English?' It makes be angry," he said.

Mr Dalton said he is considering moving back to Ireland or moving to the south of France with his family if he does opt to leave Scotland.

"I have options and qualifications. I moved here out of choice unlike a lot of Irish people in the past. But I'm feeling less and less welcome as time goes by," he said.

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