'People can often have tunnel vision of returning to Ireland'
Beaufort man Ruari Spillane founded Moving2Canada, which has helped thousands in making the move from Ireland. Now, he's preparing people for the return home. Kathleen O'Sullivan reports
New figures released by the Central Statistics Office show that the number of immigrants to Ireland has increased in the past year while the number of emigrants has declined, and there's one Kerry man who was, once again, ahead of the rest in planning for these migrant numbers.
Ruairí Spillane is the founder of Moving2Canada, the website that has aided thousands over the last six years in making the move from Ireland to Canada, and he has just launched his new website Moving2Ireland. Home from Vancouver for a visit recently, he caught up with The Kerryman to tell readers about the years that have passed and how he feels about the latest CSO data.
Ruairí, originally from Beaufort, moved to Canada in February 2008 after missing out on the opportunity of a finance job for the same company in Dublin.
Although he had most of his arrangements organised for him by the company, he soon saw the challenges other Irish people around him were facing when they moved to Canada.
He realised there was a missing piece in all of this and, thus, an idea was born.
"Little did I know at the time, making that move would lead to this! I went for a job in finance in Dublin, I didn't end up getting it. But I got offered another position with the same company - with a slight difference. The company was Canadian, and the position brought me to Vancouver," Ruairí explained.
"Soon after I moved over, there was a steady stream of people emailing me asking the same things, asking for the same information about Canada and the move, and I soon realised there was no great resource out there for people.
"So, basically, reusable information was my business idea," he added.
In the seven years since its launch in 2011, the Moving2Canada.com website has a team of eight, six of whom are Irish, working on providing a community for those immigrating there.
On the website, people can find all things immigration, including job postings, getting-started guides, advice on getting a Visa and many articles and discussion forums.
The team's new initiative Moving2Ireland.com has just been launched with the same concept - a website and community designed to support the increasing levels of immigrants to Ireland, including Irish citizens who are returning home.
"The past few years have been mad! We're now at the stage where Moving2Canada gets 45,000 visits a month," he said.
"In 2016, we started thinking about making Moving2Ireland. I found a lot of the same candidates whom I helped with their move, they were considering moving back to Ireland."
Ruairí, who also has a recruitment agency in Canada focusing on the construction sector, has seen a great interest in this field now that the economy has improved in Ireland.
For anyone choosing to move to Ireland, or even those who are moving back, obstacles are plentiful, and they don't stop once two feet are on Irish soil.
"People don't know the full reality before moving back until they are thrown into it. People get lulled into a false sense of security because they may have been home already," Ruairí continued.
"There are few government reports for the challenges that exist. We can't remove the obstacles, but we're trying to aid people and prepare them for what lies ahead.
"People can often have a tunnel vision of unification with family and friends. Then you come back and face problems with logistical things.
"There are issues with mortgage, needing residency to get a mortgage. Social welfare, accessing third level education, obtaining an Irish driving license and car insurance can have strings attached. It's really an informational issue, but these things can be made easier with planning.
The CSO data shows that more than 80,000 immigrants came to Ireland last year, with 32 per cent of those being returning emigrants, which led to the need for a resource like Moving2Ireland.
"We aim to sort up to 80 per cent of minor information that people need before moving to Canada or to Ireland. We feel we've ticked a lot of boxes when it comes to content on the websites, but there's always things being added.
"I didn't expect what was shown in the CSO data to come to the fore so soon, but I was aware of the high level of immigrants to Ireland and the need for the government to act because I deal first-hand with these people.
Ruairí and the team base a lot of the website's content on a combination of their own experiences with moving; some Facebook and other online forums; and information from a Dublin-based NGO that they work closely with, CrossCare Migrant Project. The one thing they feel is missing is information and support from the government.
"The country is definitely not making it easy for people, especially young people to return to Ireland," he feels.
"Some people might come back and we realise they were just homesick and maybe they just needed a holiday, not to move back.
"What can really help make a difference is someone's attitude when moving away from Ireland or returning. You need to have a good attitude about it and be realistic.
"But, the government need to help people with facing challenges.
"It's obvious there needs to be something done to attract immigrants - we need to put more numbers behind actions."