| 4.9°C Dublin

A challenge to our spoiled young guns who want it all on a plate -- stop whingeing and start grafting

If I hear another young unemployed Irish person whinge about being part of a lost generation I will scream.

The new breed of whingers are currently dominating the airwaves, giving vent to frustrations that all is not perfect in their world.

I left college in the early 1980s when Ireland was in an economic mess, with interest rates at 16pc and jobs scarce. Many of my friends and college mates had to emigrate as they couldn't find work here. They just got on with it.

Roll back yet another generation to my mother's time. She was one of 11 children and the only one to stay in Ireland as her siblings were forced to emigrate to the UK and the USA.

The difference between past generations and today's spoiled young guns is that we grew up prepared to work hard in order to make our way. We weren't born with silver spoons in our mouths, and did not expect super jobs and high-flying lifestyles as our natural right or as soon as we came out of college.

Today's young people are far more sophisticated than we were. The world is a smaller place for them, thanks to the internet.

They are pampered products of the Celtic Tiger who grew up in an Ireland which was in the grip of an almighty boom. They saw their parents doing well in work, many owning several properties and driving top of the range new cars.

Their expectations were tailored very high.

The anger and frustration of young people was plain to see on RTE television's Frontline programme on Monday. The theme was how the political system had failed our highly educated young workforce.

And tonight the Primetime programme is devoting itself to the same topic.

The Frontline audience was full of well-spoken graduates and professional accountants, architects, engineers, all feeling very sore that they can't find employment in their chosen field.


They booed Bill Cullen, one of Ireland's best known entrepreneurs, who was the only one in the audience prepared to tell them some home truths. He told them to get up off their arses and hunt down jobs, abroad if need be, rather than sit at home and complain.

Work for nothing if it means that you get experience. This recession will pass, he declared.

The extremely well-spoken Trinity College Students Union president Conan O Broin indignantly blamed the politicians for squandering the riches of boom times and leaving nothing for the new kids on the block.

Two young political guns, Fine Gael's Lucinda Creighton and Fianna Fail's Thomas Byrne, were trotted out to make a case for the political system. You would find it hard to find two more uninspiring politicians who added little to the debate. Yes of course it's very tough -- and I have every sympathy for people who have gone through college and whose dreams have been shattered and who won't be able to settle into the lovely lifestyle they had carved out for themselves straight away. It must be heartbreaking to be on the dole after studying hard for four years.

Last year, on the Late Late Show, I was struck by a 24-year- old graduate who was emigrating to Australia and who told how he was trying to sell his year-old BMW car before his departure. The banks had given him a full loan for the car when he got his first job. I had very little sympathy for him.

Instead of all the negative talk and indignation, I would like to see the so-called lost generation channel their energies in a more positive way.


They should stop talking themselves into the depths of depression, and try to use the current time as an opportunity. As Bill Cullen says, get out there and graft. Get up at 4am if that's what it takes to work.

Emigration can be of great personal benefit and by going abroad people can acquire skills and life experiences that can be put to great use when Ireland's economic fortunes have improved.

It's not easy. But you are not starving. Let you, the lost generation become the resilient generation who will have a lot to offer your country when the better times come around again.