16 Jan 2022

Mick Mulholland

Will this Government please spare us the bluster and spoof that all too often these days passes for a defence of its various policies?

Will this Government please spare us the bluster and spoof that all too often these days passes for a defence of its various policies?

Unemployment is endemic.

Youth unemployment is endemic.

The line of Irish citizens without jobs represents a cruel betrayal of our people. People have been cast on to the scrap heap because of the folly, greed and, in some cases, corruption of those at the higher echelons of Irish society.

That is where we are. And nothing can take from that grotesque truth.

In that context, it is regrettable in the extreme to see the Government attempt to put a gloss on a very bad situation for our young people.

In the Dail last week, the Tanaiste, Eamon Gilmore, was asked a reasonable question by Gerry Adams about a leaked document from the Department of Social Protection warning that key changes will be required to the youth initiative on jobs and education.

And the reason: scarce resources. So could the Government keep its promise to provide guaranteed access to a job, further education or training for young people.

The Government has already cut young people’s dole on the spurious basis that retaining it a previous levels could lead to a culture of long-term unemployment.

And what had Mr Gilmore to say? Nothing, really, other than utter a long litany of initiatives made by the Government to deal with youth unemployment.

“At the height of the crisis in 2009, there were 83,000 young people unemployed,” said Mr Gilmore. “The figure is now down to 59,000.”

Few would blame Mr Adams for suggesting that Chubby Checker would envy the Tanaiste’s ability to do the twist!

And it took Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae, from deepest Kerry, to remind the Tanaiste that the figures were down because young people were leaving in increasing numbers for Canada and Australia.

The Tanaiste remained upbeat. Many young people, he said, were in new types of employment, including in the Dublin docklands and in companies like PayPal in Co Louth.

There was no mention from Mr Gilmore of the frustration of those on the quest for employment here or the hideous return of emigration with a vengeance.

Forced emigration of the young remains forced emigration.

True, they are better prepared than a previous generation of emigrants. There is skype, email and so on. Most emigrants are better educated.

But make no mistake about it: our young people are leaving in droves because this Republic has failed them. And no amount of bluster in the Dail can obscure that reality.

An EU scheme, from next year, is to provide job opportunities, and further education and training for young people, within four months of completing education. Initial indications are that there could be a shortage of education and training places in this country.

If this were to happen, it would be a truly shocking failure on the part of the Republic to meet EU-agreed obligations to young people.

The Government is also engaging in bluster in its defence of what amounts to a blatant U-turn on the cost of using the Freedom of Information process.

We learn this week that the President, Michael D Higgins is to visit Britain next year. It will be the first State visit by an Irish head of State. The visit was announced by Buckingham Palace in a brief statement on Sunday night. It will be a truly historic visit, given the old trouble between Ireland and Britain.

We lost many of our sons and daughters to England over the years. The boarding houses of Kilburn High Road and Camden Town were the addresses of a lost generation.

In that dreadful decade between 1951 and 1961, when a total of 400.00 people left this country. Today, we are again faced by the horrible spectacle of forced emigration.

And our politicians, with their substantial salaries and guaranteed pensions, seem incapable of realising it.

Forced emigration is forced emigration. And that is a tragic reality in the Ireland of 2013.

So, when our politicians talk about unemployment in the future, will they please acknowledge the grim reality of forced emigration?

It is a fact of life. Yet again!

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