WICKLOW IS ' haemorrhaging people' according to Bray's Cllr. John Brady, who said that young people are finding it increasingly difficult to get jobs at home.
'Forced emigration sees sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, grandsons and granddaughters and even parents leaving their home to seek work abroad,' said Cllr. Brady, whose own family has been affected.
'I have lost two brothers to emigration - one to Australia and the other to South East Asia.'
In the 26 Counties, there are now more than 460,000 people out of work and the unemployment rate has reached 14.8%. In Wicklow there are 12,164 people currently unemployed. The collapse of the building industry has left more than 100,000 construction workers jobless.
Youth unemployment has trebled since 2008. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions recently stated that one in three men under the age of 25 are unable to find work.
'Forced emigration has become accepted as part of what it means to be Irish,' said John.
'For too long emigration has been dismissed as a necessary evil; a stop-gap solution to our unemployment problem. It reduced dole queues, removed the disaffected, and quelled the potential for public unrest.'
He said that over 87,000 people left Ireland last year. ' To put that in perspective, that's more than the combined population of Bray, Greystones, Wicklow Town and Arklow. A generation is being lost to emigration. Behind the statistics there are communities and families that are torn apart.'
Cllr. Brady said that history is repeating itself, as the ' brain drain' sucked the marrow out of Ireland's social and economic development during the last recession.
The impact emigration is having on families and communities is devastating.
' In Kilmacanogue 15 young men under the age of 30 have recently packed up and gone, this is an entire GAA team and these have been joined by two entire families who have sold up everything and left the village and county they loved, unfortunately probably never to return,' he says.
The solution, he said, is an economic alternative to give young people a life, a career and a sense of place.