Laura Kalbag

Hello Ireland

On Saturday, we celebrated the victory for Irish people as they repealed the anti-abortion laws. We were celebrating not just because we care about the rights of people with uteruses, but also because we have now been resident in Ireland for two months. And we love it here.

Why move?

If you know Aral and me, you’ll know we’ve been trying to find the right home for the last three or four years. We initially left the UK because the Snooper’s Charter was a threat to our work in building a privacy-respecting social network. But also with the election of the Conservative party, we could see further authoritarian laws, and Brexit, on the horizon. All the while we were both still European citizens, this gave us freedom of movement within most of the EU, and the privilege to find somewhere less of a threat to our livelihoods. With Brexit happening, and so much of Europe enacting more authoritarian surveillance bills, it has become even more important to find a country where we can live together (as one British citizen, one French citizen) and continue to work without struggling to exist within the system.

Why not Sweden?

We made some really great friends in Sweden, and I imagine it’s a lovely lifestyle once you’re a part of the system. We glimpsed some of that, but it is not easy to exist as an outsider in the Swedish system. In two years living in Malmö, we had to move three times, and couldn’t get bank accounts, phone contracts, or register for medical care. The bureaucracy just didn’t have the accommodation for two EU citizens who had their own non-Swedish business. And there was no flexibility to help us unless we were able to spend a huge sum of money to buy our way in. Navigating everyday life as an outsider affected our work productivity, and I was more anxious and depressed than I’d been before.

Why Ireland?

Have you been to Ireland? You should come! It’s beautiful, and the people are so genuinely friendly, helpful and kind.

In two months, we are registered as residents. We have a lovely home, we have bank accounts and phone numbers, we’ve been to the doctors, the dentists, and Osky has been to the vets. We learned lessons from our previous country move, and tried to get the bureaucracy off our minds as soon as possible. Of course it’s been easier as English is a native language in Ireland.

Also British citizens have additional rights that exist outside of the EU. So when Brexit comes, Aral and I won’t be separated by a border.

What now?

It feels good here. We’re settling in well, and are becoming more productive as a result. We’re continuing to work on Indienet, and Better Blocker. I just recorded the audiobook for Accessibility For Everyone. We want to take root here, become more involved locally, and properly integrate. So if you’re based in Co. Cork, let us know!

Oskar in the lush Irish woods.