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Independent.ie

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Emigration is bleeding the country dry

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The recent report from the IDA confirmed that 5,000 jobs have been created by client companies of the agency in the first six months of the year.

It's an impressive performance, particularly given the current economic conditions. And yet, unemployment rates stay stubbornly high. The latest official figures put the number out of work at almost 452,000.

However, the numbers signing on would be far higher but for the efforts of two home-grown companies -- namely Ryanair and Aer Lingus.

Emigration is back and Ireland is once again exporting its citizens in their tens of thousands. Parishes the length and breadth of the country are losing young single people and young families to Canada, Australia, Britain and the US; and there is no sign of the exodus slowing any time soon.

I was talking to a young lady in Kilkenny recently who said that 13 of her friends were planning to go after the All-Ireland hurling final -- they're a cocky lot in Cat-land. They're not all out of work, but the employment they have is insecure, the pay is low and there is little chance of promotion or progress.

Undoubtedly, there is an element of 'pull', as much as 'push', to the outflow of youngsters. Far away hills will certainly look a hell of a lot greener if you have friends already there and they can line up work for you.

The emigration figures since the start of the recession have steadily increased so that we are now in 1950s territory. It is estimated that over 40,000 people left in 2011, with up to 70,000 projected to leave this year.

The powers-that-be must be thanking their lucky stars for the emigration 'safety valve', because without it the country would be an awful lot worse off. There would be nearly 600,000 on the dole and the potential for social strife would be far greater.

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Sadly, the fact remains that in emigrating, the country's young and unemployed are letting our leaders off the hook. They are the ones paying the price for our total mismanagement of the economy. The Government's response to the problem has been lacklustre to date. The recent €2.25bn stimulus was described by the Government as a "game-changer" that could deliver 13,000 jobs.

But in focusing the funds on road projects and the building of public utilities, is the Government genuinely hoping to stimulate the economy in a real and sustainable manner?

We need health centres, colleges and garda stations, but would there not have been a greater economic payback from improving broadband access nationally and investing in green energy projects?

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