Experts have warned that the Irish government is overestimating how quickly emigrants will return home and the boost they will bring to the economy.

Dr. Mary Gilmartin, a specialist in migration research at Maynooth University and the author of a the book, Ireland and Migration in the 21st Century, told the Irish Independent that she is not seeing any pragmatic evidence that the government is prepared for return migration.

"I see rhetoric about wanting to get people to return, but I don't see any evidence of any practical things that are directed towards making it easier for people to return."

Gilmartin believes returning emigrants will have trouble getting mortgages and other loans without a credit history. "I don't think the rate of return will be as high as predicted and I don't think the economic situation is as positive as Government suggestions indicate."

Finance Minister Michael Noonan pledged last week to lure emigrants home with more favorable tax measures, and a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said the new proposals are "an important step" in returning to net inward migration by 2017.

Gilmartin says a lot more must be done before emigrants start booking flights home.

"It's a very patchy recovery. Some areas are doing well, but other areas are still struggling. The upheaval of moving a family is such that I can't see people engaging in that kind of upheaval to move a family back again quite so quickly," she said.

Dr David Ralph, assistant professor of sociology at Trinity College Dublin, said some emigrants could attracted back under false pretenses.

"They wouldn't want to be luring people home with various false guns that there has been this sort of major upswing in the economy," he said. "The reality can be quite different and I think people are more realistic about the slow nature of the recovery."

Despite Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s promise that 2016 will be the year the number of people coming home “will be greater than the number of people who leave” Ralph says: "Will there be a rush? I don't think so, I don't think the economy is necessarily buoyant enough to create the return seen during the boom years.”

He told the Irish Independent that a slower, organized return is more sustainable.

"If we have a housing crisis in Dublin as it stands and up to 50,000 Irish people return, then we are going to have an even bigger housing crisis because they will move to urban areas.”

"The rate of return migration during the boom further fuelled the property frenzy, so if it does happen, we need to keep an eye on the property market."

 

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