An Irish businessman is putting in place measures to assist the thousands of young Irish people who are immigrating to New York due to poor economic conditions in Ireland.

Paul Hurley, owner of six bars and restaurants in New York and current president of United Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association, held a press conference on Monday, March 15 to highlight the issues surrounding the influx of new immigrants and discuss solutions to the problems.

Hurley, A Co. Dublin immigrant, organized a group of likeminded people to come together to brainstorm ideas regarding the establishment of a New York City network that would help new immigrants seek jobs, accommodation and create contacts.

Hurley told the Irish Voice he came here in 1985, during a similar economic slump in Ireland, and still remembers the difficulty he had obtaining a job and accommodation.

“I mopped floors at Pier 17 when I came here first and it was a good 10 years before I opened my first bar,” said Hurley.

He is still grateful to the men and women who gave him the head start he needed when he first arrived, and is looking to do the same for new Irish immigrants.

Hurley is going to make available a room in the upstairs of his newest bar, O’Casey’s in Midtown, to Irish immigrants who are seeking a friendly face and a little help in the right direction in Manhattan.

“I will open up this room, put a few computers in here and some refreshments and the Irish can come in when they want and use the room,” said Hurley. 

“There are immigration centers in Queen and the Bronx but there is nothing in Manhattan, where a lot of these people come looking for jobs, so that’s where we come in,” he said.

The group, Failte 32, will begin by establishing strong links with Irish organizations with roots in New York, many of which were present at the lunchtime press conference on Monday.

Looking ahead, Hurley said the newly established group hopes to hold monthly information seminars to educate the new immigrants on life in New York, the various associations they can become part of, how to go about getting a job and other areas of information.

“We’re just trying to get the word out there at the moment and get this off the ground,” he added.

Maurice Landers, who was representing the pan-alumni umbrella group of Irish universities in the U.S., said it was appropriate that the group was to establish out of an Irish bar, “the center of the Irish immigrant experience.”