Historically, the special relationship between South Africa and Ireland goes beyond trading partners because of the Irish missionaries that came to South Africa before the mid 1800s. Many of the missionaries stayed at the Cape. They were of course, Catholic missionaries since Protestantism didn’t exist yet at that time.
By the 1900s, the trading and bilateral relations between the 2 countries began to grow but were abruptly stopped by the start of the Apartheid. Even before 1960, Ireland was vocal about their opposition to white supremacy in South Africa ad only resumed bilateral relations after the end of the Apartheid. Today bilateral relations have resulted in embassies being set up in both countries and trade amounts to over 500 million Euros a year.
Ireland is also providing aid to South Africa through their Irish Aid-SA program which began in 1994. Another fund was created and managed by the Nial Mellon Township Trust whose sole function is to improve the lives of the people living in townships by building homes. From 2002 up to last year, the trust was able to build 15,000 houses.
Travel To Ireland
South Africans have always felt an affinity with Ireland and many have traveled to Ireland because of this. Here is a quick summary of the details on travel to Ireland by South Africans:
- As long as you hold a permanent South African passport, you aren’t required to apply for a travel visa to Ireland if you fly straight to Ireland
- You may have to show proof that you can support your stay while in Ireland
- You will need a UK visa to visit Northern Ireland. If you are caught without a valid visa, you will be deported and may never be approved for a UK visa
- If you travel via the United Kingdom, you will need either a transit visa or a tourist visa. The type would depend if you plan on visiting Northern Ireland or if you plan on staying for a few days in the UK
- You can fly to Ireland through any Schengen country and as long as you limit your stop-over to 24 hours inside the airport, you won’t need to apply for a visa
Immigration to Ireland
Ireland is a popular choice among South Africans who want to migrate to another country. There have been waves of immigration to Ireland from South Africa, the last being in 2003/2004. Some of the reasons for the diaspora were the ease in applying for immigrant status, the excellent welfare package in Ireland, work and income opportunities, and the fact that there has always been a strong Irish influence in South Africa.
There are several groups within Ireland that try to keep South Africans united and less homesick. One is the Irish South African Association and another would be The South African Ireland group.
There are 5 types of visas for South Africans: work permit, green card, intra-company transfer scheme, student visa or long term residency visa, and the spouse and/or dependent visa.