Sinn Féin Youth Affairs Spokesperson, Senator Kathryn Reilly, has today launched the party’s proposal document to tackle issues affecting young people in Ireland.
Following on from months of consultation with youth groups and organisations across the island, the document, Youth Matters: Not For Export!, identifies the biggest issues facing young people today, the government’s response to date and deficiencies in the Youth Guarantee.
Senator Reilly said:
“Even as recent as this week the ESRI have told us that young people have suffered some of the sharpest increases in deprivation as a result of the recession. The lack of jobs, precarious and part-time work, increased college and apprenticeship fees, as well as cuts to social welfare have put an intolerable burden on young people’s personal and professional development.
"We hear of job creation in the economy everyday and decreasing numbers in the unemployment figures but the fact remains that schemes like JobBridge and Gateway are massaging the numbers, hiding the realities of youth unemployment and exploiting young people.
"We have billionaries coming to Ireland, trumpeting the cause of job creation, only to use and abuse these schemes to get cheap labour. This is unacceptable.
"Sinn Féin held out high hopes for the Youth Guarantee that was agreed last year- especially in terms of helping those disadvantaged youths and those who would never have experienced the Celtic Tiger in any guise.
"Unfortunately however, we feel that going on the current plans and from our meetings with the Commission, it could be a damp squib.
“Those who are most disadvantaged and would benefit most, such as those who don’t engage with the employment services and those on disability allowance are being left out.
“This youth guarantee is leaving a huge swathe of young people behind.
“Creating a society whereby young people can thrive would mean ensuring payment for work done rather than provision of free labour, job dignity and job satisfaction rather than forced emigration.
“Sinn Fein called for a specific focus on youth to be included in the Action Plan For Jobs 2014 and I made a written submission to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation last year in December 2013 for that focus to be included.
“This should be as much of a priority for the government as it is for Sinn Féin. It is a matter of urgency that must be addressed immediately.”