The Catholic Church in Ireland has called for greater support for Irish emigrants in the UK and the rest of the world. The appeal comes after a series of studies detailing the hardships suffered by many Irish people living in Britain. One survey, conducted by the Irish Centre in the city of Birmingham, found 1,500 elderly Irish single men there living in difficulties. Fr Paul Byrne, director of the Episcopal Commission for Emigrants, warned that many Irish emigrants ended up unemployed or ill, living in poor housing or on the streets. He said the problems of marginalised Irish people who left the country in earlier waves of emigration should be a priority for the government's planned task force on emigration. "We need to look at the scale of the problem," he said. "We know so little about how many need to be brought back, how we should decide who should comes back and what sort of care package is needed for them" Fr Paul said the largest problem was in Britain, but there were also Irish emigrants in difficulty in American and Australia. Individual initiative in Ireland, providing accommodation and support services, have already resulted in small numbers of emigrants returning home. But Fr Paul said: "There are 1.3 million Irish-born people living abroad yet there is no coherent policy on the issue. He said: "I want the task force to look at emigration as the major social issue it is. Until now we have just tinkered round the edges."
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