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Youth unemployment & emigration - Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

13 April, 2013


“Sometimes, it’s the smallest things that hit a nerve.

“It happens to me on Sundays, during the intro for The Week in Politics.  De Valera’s famous boast echoes:  ‘No longer shall our children, like our cattle, be brought up for export.’

“Decades later, our young people remain one of our largest exports. The shadow of emigration hangs over every Irish town, parish and village, as people are leaving at a rate not seen since the Great Hunger.

“I think of dozens of my friends, relatives and neighbours who are gone. I could lose count. I know more people in Perth than I do in most Irish counties.

“Everyone has their reason for going. Some will thrive, some may not. Some will come home, many will not.

“I know that most would not have gone if they didn’t have to.

“They leave behind the empty place at the dinner table, the formerly lively pubs, where you see few young people outside of Christmas time, the GAA clubs where fielding a team is an achievement as big as winning anything.

“The life, vibrancy, and vitality is sapped from towns.

“We have an uncaring government, contemptuous of those citizens who have left. They are entirely excluded from the political life of the state: good enough to bring money home during The Gathering, but not good enough for a vote.

“I suspect the government is relieved and feels it can abdicate responsibility for them. There has been no serious effort to stem the tide of emigration.

“It doesn’t have to be this way.

“My generation is capable, intelligent, and innovative. We are workers with potential to help us economically recover. The government owes it to the Irish people, of all generations, to ensure we have the opportunity to do that.

“Our parents did not raise us for export.”

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