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Some thoughts on Irish Citizenship for a British person

As a British person living in Ireland, I am afforded all the “freedom of movement” rights of EU citizens to work and live wherever I want in Europe.

I am free to reside and work in Ireland, and can travel without restriction in and out of the country. I don’t need to apply for visas or work permits, unlike non-EU migrants. And as such, I’m treated pretty-much as if I was an Irish citizen.

The freedoms are so universal that it’s hard to come up with many tangible differences between being an Irish or EU citizen. Here’s the only restrictions I can find:

  • I’m not allowed to vote in Presidential elections
  • I’m not allowed to vote in any referendum votes
  • I can’t stand as Irish President, or become a member of the Dáil or Seanad

I place quite a lot of value on the voting rights – as I’ve missed out on numerous referendums since moving here – and I feel a bit disenfranchised by not being able to vote on constitutional changes that will have a direct effect upon my life.

But are the voting rights on their own worth the €1,125 naturalisation fees, and the 6 months of bureaucracy and paperwork?

Personal Experience

For the last couple of years I’ve been pondering the idea becoming an Irish citizen. I’ve been living here over 8 years, my wife is Irish, and Ireland looks like it’ll be my home for the foreseeable future. I have deepening roots in this country, and yet sometimes I still feel like a foreigner.

I don’t know if citizenship will help me feel more Irish. I guess my British accent will always set me apart from those who grew up in Ireland. But maybe an Irish passport will help me feel less of an outsider.

Any maybe how I “feel” is what it all comes down to. With few tangible benefits, the major driving force to go for naturalisation would be to feel more at home.

The Numbers

I was hunting around the web for some statistics about the number of British people that apply to Irish naturalisation, but couldn’t find any breakdown of naturalisation by country. The naturalisation numbers just don’t appear to be published anywhere, which seems strange.

There are loads of figures about immigration , and the census breaks down the population by country of origin. Indeed, the last census recorded 390,000 EU nationals resident in Ireland, which amounts to about 8% of the population.  But I suspect that the number of those people applying for Irish citizenship is tiny.

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Postcodes in Ireland

Up until now, Ireland has not had a postcode system for postal addresses. This sometime made the ordering of goods from abroad quite tricky, as even our neighbours in the UK were confused that we didn’t use postcodes.

At the end of June 2015 an organisation called Eircode will be rolling out postcodes to 2.2 million homes and businesses across the republic.

The format of the new Eircode will be a 3-digit alphanumeric ‘routing key’, followed by a 4-digit alphanumeric ‘unique identifier’. The routing key will identify the area you live in, and in Dublin it will mirror the current postal district codes (D2, D6W, D15, etc.) The unique identifier will be a random selection of numbers and letters that identify your house or apartment. The unique identifiers of neighbours will bear no relation to each other, and cannot be used to infer a neighbourhood or street.

Source: Eircode
Source: Eircode
  • The Routing Key will always start with a letter A, C, D, E, F, H, K, N, P, R, T, V, W, X or Y, and will be followed by two numeric digits (0-9) – except for the area of the D6W where the letter W is valid on the 3rd digit.
  • The Unique Identifier will comprise a mixture of letters and/or numbers – letters A, C, D, E, F, H, K, N, P, R, T, V, W, X or Y, and numbers 0-9. No two houses in the same street will have a similar codes, and no two houses of the same name will have a similar code.

Hopefully the new postcode system will allow the more accurate routing of the emergency services and postal/courier services – and hopefully it’ll be adopted into satnav systems, to help the rest of us navigate more successfully.

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Improved music while you work

Sometimes in the office I find it helpful to listen to music. Simply the process of putting on a pair of headphones helps me zone out of the distractions of the office, and concentrate better on the task in hand.

My problem was that I wasn’t convinced the quality of music produced by the work laptop, and so I tried to see what I could do to improve the sound quality.

High Quality Streaming

The first thing was to ensure the source of the music was as good as it could be. There are music services like Tidal that offer lossless audio – but they charge double the price of other streaming services, and its debatable whether you can tell the difference unless you have very high-end audio equipment.

I use the Spotify premium service, and they offer a high quality streaming option in their desktop app (see Edit->Preferences). The high quality option doubles the bit rate from 160 kbps to 320 kbps, which should improve the quality of the music.

Better Headphones

Music through a €5 pair of ear-buds is never going to sound as good as through a €500 pair of audiophile headphones. But again, there’s a balance to be made here – and a law of diminishing returns. As you spend more, the incremental improvements get smaller and smaller. As such, I’d say don’t spend over €200 for headphones in a noisy office environment.

When buying new headphones, you’re looking for good noise isolation. You don’t want your music interrupted by the conversation across the room, and similarly you don’t want your music to leak out and annoy your colleagues. Look for closed (or closed back) headphones to avoid noise leakage.

For very noisy offices, you might want to consider noise-cancelling headphones, which alter the audio to try and actively block out ambient noise. They are useful if you do a lot of air travel, as they are designed to block out low frequencies (such as airplane engine noise) – but there are disadvantages to using them. They are often more bulky, they need battery power to operate, and the noise-cancelling effect can reduce the audio quality.

Bulldog clip providing a handy place to hang the headphones
Bulldog clip providing a handy place to hang the headphones

External DAC

Once you have a good quality source of music, and good quality headphones, the only thing that can let down the music is the thing that sits in the middle – the computer. The headphones socket of your PC can often let you down in terms of sound quality, and an external DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter) will go a long way to improve the quality.

I have a DacMagic XS which has provided me with a noticeable improvement in sound quality. It’s tiny – smaller than a matchbox – and plugs into one of the USB ports of the laptop. I then plug my headphones in the other end. It’s small enough to look unobtrusive on my desk, and can also be used to improve the sound output of a smartphone or tablet.

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Why you should probably quit your job, right now!

Most people delay the decision to quit their job for far too long. They put up with a stressful or unhappy position, and sometimes put their physical and mental health at risk, in the hope that things will improve.

Most of the time, that never happens.

The colleagues that piss you off, the boss that bullies you, or the customers that treat you like shit. You can put up with them all for so long, thinking that if you “just hang in there” things will get better. However, most of the time people don’t change. If a co-worker is a jerk today, then he will most likely stay a jerk for ever. And no amount of wishful thinking on your part will make them behave better.

Many organisations tolerate bad behaviour in their staff, as long as the staff member remains fairly productive. A weak management team will often try to ignore a problem, rather than tackle it head on. It’s much easier to ignore incidents of bad behaviour, and hope they will sort themselves out.

But people don’t change. A person that is not tackled about their bad behaviour will take it as a mandate to carry on. And before you know it, it’s the accepted culture within a team.

I worked for one place where a team leader was a bully. He used to belittle and humiliate team members in front of the rest of the team. Many of them complained to the owner of the business, but because the bully was one of the best performing employees, the owner refused to do anything about it. And over time people learned not to bother complaining, as nothing would be done. Morale hit rock bottom, absenteeism was at an all-time high, and productivity dipped – all of which fuelled more bulling.

It was only when about half the team members quit and left the company that anyone took notice. And by then the damage was done.

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Sometimes the only option available to staff is to vote with their feet, and quit a company.

It might seem like a drastic measure to quit, particularly if you’re not sure of getting rehired elsewhere. And sometimes the decision comes down to the balance of job security against being happy.

Indeed, the chances are there are a good portion of people reading this article, right now, that are miserable at work. And my advice to you, is to quit your job – today!

The feeling of finally being free from the toxic environment will be amazing.

Sure, the prospect of being unemployed can be scary, but maybe not as scary as you think. Indeed, I quit a job about 8 years ago, and moved to a new country with no work, no home and no friends – and within weeks I had found a great job, a lovely new home, and some great friends. I took a leap of faith to leave behind a situation where I wasn’t happy, and I found the experience liberating – even life-changing.

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UPC mess up house move disconnection

I’m moving house next weekend, into somewhere that already has UPC service. As such I needed to cancel my UPC at my current address.

To cancel you are required to give 30 days written notice (email to resolutionteam@upc.ie), which I duly did, noting the exact day I wanted to the services to cease.

Unfortunately today they’ve cut me off 9 days early! I have no TV or broadband, and because its Good Friday, there’s almost nobody working in UPC today.

I did speak to someone, and asked for my account to be re-enabled for 9 days. But they say the only way I can get TV and broadband connected is if I sign up to a new 12 month contract, which is ridiculous!

So I’m sat here in complete silence. Can’t watch TV, can’t use broadband. I can’t even download a new book for my Kindle.

They claim to have tried to call me 3 times in the last couple of weeks, to confirm the disconnection, but I never received the calls, or any voice mails asking for me to call back – so they decided to go ahead anyway.

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