Spotlight on a nation- Romanians in Ireland

In this latest of our occasional series of articles profiling the new communities in Ireland, we put the spotlight on the Romanians in Ireland. Ovidiu Matiut is the Integration officer with Spirasi, working to assist immigrants to find employment. He is also the secretary of the Romanian Community in Ireland.The programme he coordinates runs for six weeks and is made up of an intense three week English for employment course, two weeks of life skills modules focusing on areas such as employment rights and entitlements, social welfare to work, Irish adult education sistem, money advice and budgeting and stress management. The sixth week is filled with work preparation skills such as writing C.V.s , cover letters and mock interviews.He is one of the estimated 20-30,000 Romanians living in Ireland and Ovidiu came in 2000. As secretary of the Romanian Community group he has seen a lot of changes in Ireland and the status of Romanians in Ireland. The positive aspect for Romanians is that it is possible to have a deceent life in Ireland even though the cost is high.The negative aspect is that there are stereotypes that people have about us believing that we are gypsies and also our qualifications are not recognised here so we are not doing work accoring to our qualifications.Romanians began to move to Ireland initially in small numbers following the collapse of the Ceaucescu regime and as the Irish economy grew so too did the numbers of Romanians moving here.The majority are in Dublin and probably male aged 20-45 years old. They work in IT, constructin, hotel and catering and others jobs. When asked do the majority want to stay in Ireland, Ovidiu supposes that Romanians who have had family in Ireland are likely to stay but many others see their future in Romania.We are only months away from Romania joining the EU and Ovidiu reckons it should be a chance for a better life but after Ireland refused the right to work it looks like Romanians will be second class citizens. Unlike Poland and others in the first round of accession, there is massive support for joining the EU.While other eastern European countries have seen strong economic growth, there are increasing numbers of Irish people buying property in both Bulgaria and Romania. Asked whether he views this as helping or hindering locals in their search for property Ovidiu reckons that the Irish are helping themselves but as a result maybe that will be good for business in Romania.Romanians are allowed in Ireland only as visa holders and that is not easy to get. It is a long and very frustrated process and I think less that 50% of applicants will get a visa. There are lots of bad stereotypes about Romanians.On leisure and sport activities Ovidiu tells us that the Romanians like their satellite TV with Romanian channels. On a local level there are three Romanian football teams, one of which plays in the SARI Brian Kerr League. On the Romanian attitude to GAA, Oviduiu believes that it is an unusual sport and hence not many Romanians play though he says that “I know a young girl who is the captain of her school team and is very good”.I asked him to comment about the recent Irish government suvey which indicates that racism has declined in Ireland by 20%: “I do not agree what I can say is that the institutionalized racism is very big and as well the immigrants fear of reporting it. As well we can not neglect the ability of same people to diversify methods of being racist”.

This entry was posted in News/Events. Bookmark the permalink.