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Fine Gael pledge to tackle emigration

Fine Gael today pledged to tackle the scourge of forced emigration with a series of measures to keep Ireland's talent at home.

The Opposition party claimed that, if elected in the February 25 General Election, it would provide opportunities for the 100,000 likely to emigrate in next two years.

Proposals include having 23,000 new internship places for unemployed graduates; 5,000 new Community Employment plans; and 700 guaranteed work placements for apprentices until they complete their course.

Fine Gael also vowed to overhaul FAS so it will provide enhanced and targeted training opportunities for the over-25s.

Fergus O'Dowd, education and skills spokesman, revealed 17,000 second-chance education places would be created for former retail and construction workers.

They will receive about €20 a week on top of their social welfare payment, a €500 contribution towards books and a completion bonus of around €3,000.

Mr O'Dowd said: "Our future will depend on a government that knows what needs to be done, is prepared to take the tough decisions but is also clear that talented young, and not so young, Irish people get the opportunities to stay in Ireland as the journey to recovery begins."

Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar revealed knocking on doors during his campaign has been a real eye-opener.

"I've been struck by the number of people who have told me about their sons and daughters who have had to emigrate to find work," he said.

"We are losing our best talent - the very people who want to work and have contributed to the economy.

"We must do everything we possibly can to provide jobs, training and placement opportunities here at home. Fine Gael is not prepared to lose this talent without a fight."

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