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Saint Patrick’s Day, Lá Fhéile Pádraig, is celebrated on 17 March each year. In 2024 it will be marked at events around Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Irish people in the UK have contributed hugely to life here across a wide range of sectors, and the lives of Irish and British people have been intertwined for millennia. Two British Prime Ministers, William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, were born in Ireland.

The contribution of Irish labour to the British construction industry has been described by Sir William McAlpine as “immeasureable”. For example, Irish workers were part of the teams that built the earliest tunnels for the London Underground network, as well as more modern works such as the Victoria Line.

Irish people have also contributed greatly to the National Health Service, and President of Ireland Michael D Higgins paid tribute to their service during his 2014 State Visit to the UK. As of June 2023, 13,700 members of NHS staff in England reported their nationality as Irish. This includes around 2,300 doctors and over 4,200 nurses.

Today, Irish citizens can take up long-term residence and access public services in the UK without immigration restrictions (as British citizens can do in Ireland). Around 365,000 residents of the UK were born in the Republic of Ireland, according to the 2021 census (excluding Scotland for which census results are not yet available).

In England and Wales, the unemployment rate for people giving their national identity as Irish is lower than average. Irish people are also more likely to work in professional and managerial occupations, again according to census data.

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