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Brain drain: Why the exodus of graduates from Northern Ireland must be stopped

Repelled by deep sectarian divisions and lack of opportunity, talented young people are fleeing in droves. Olivia Fletcher asks if the economic conundrum can ever be fixed

Sunday 20 February 2022 21:30 GMT
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Northern Ireland faces a daunting economic task: how to stop so many students and qualified graduates from leaving and never coming back
Northern Ireland faces a daunting economic task: how to stop so many students and qualified graduates from leaving and never coming back (Getty/iStock)

Richhill is a quiet enclave in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. With a population size of about 3,000, the modest village has what could be deemed the essentials: the local chippy, a convenience store, a doctor’s surgery, a pub or two and a smattering of churches.

Unless, like James Brown, you’re a young person desperate to see more of the world and seek out new opportunities.

Brown was itching to leave Richhill, where he grew up. “There’s no jobs for what I want to do in Northern Ireland, so I kind of had to move away,” he says. The 21-year-old is in his third year at the London School of Economics, studying actuarial science. He already has a job lined up with an actuarial firm in the capital when he graduates.

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