Dealing with the scourge of emigration a priority for Sinn Féin - Adams
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD and Pearse Doherty TD joined EU candidate Liadh Ní Riada in Cork this morning.
The Sinn Féin team was highlighting the scourge of emigration at a press conference this morning.
Gerry Adams said:
“Emigration has been a scourge of the Irish nation for centuries. Successive governments have embraced emigration as a policy choice in the face of domestic economic challenges.
“The present Fine Gael/Labour Government is no different. Emigration is being utilised as a political safety valve since the economic crash. We are still raising our children for export. It is one of the great failures of modern Ireland.
“And there is a massive human cost. The curse of emigration is causing untold misery to families the length and breadth of this state. I have met parents in tears as they recount the fact that the children they reared and educated have been forced to leave for Canada, Australia and elsewhere.
“In just six years, this state went from having the highest net immigration levels in Europe to the highest net emigration levels.
“Some 1,700 people, mostly young, are forced to leave this state every week. This is unacceptable. Forced emigration is devastating for communities, especially in rural Ireland.
“The Government's austerity policies have made the situation worse. Its policies, including a succession of stealth taxes are damaging the Irish family. Increasing numbers of families are fragmented, with their children scattered around the world. As a consequence this is the Skype generation.
“This Government offers hundreds of thousands of our young people a stark choice – the dole or the plane out. It refuses to introduce credible stimulus strategies. Emigration is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ as this Government has claimed.
“We currently have 400,000 citizens, or 12% out of work, almost half of whom are long term unemployed and most of these citizens see no prospect of getting real jobs. Ultimately this is a question of political priorities.
“This Government chose to saddle Irish citizens with €65 billion of banking debt but refuses to invest €400m in a real youth guarantee. The youth unemployment crisis in this state is not being taken seriously by the Government or the EU. It is being treated with tokenism in terms of the funding being committed by the EU for states to implement their youth guarantee schemes.
“The total comes to 6.5 billion euro of which this state will only get €204 million over the course of four years. This is just over half the funding which Sinn Fein believes is needed to fund a youth guarantee that adequately addresses the nature of the crisis.
“The International Labour Organisation has reported that an effective EU youth guarantee programme should be funded to the tune of €21 billion or 0.5% of Eurozone spending. The ILO also estimated that such a guarantee, like the one being implemented in Sweden, costs roughly €6,600 per participant.
“There are 65,000 young people unemployed in this state. A youth guarantee that would have long term benefits to Ireland would need funding of €400 million. A real youth guarantee would be used to focus on connecting young people with placement that match their education and experience. It would prevent our young people from being exposed underpaid labour.
“This needs to happen now. The rollout of the poorly funded, badly organised Irish Youth Guarantee, for which this Government has responsibility, is to be staggered and will not be ready until the 2015 if we are lucky.
“Sinn Féin has a different set of priorities to those parties in the Consensus for Cuts - Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil.
“Our priorities are economic stimulus, job creation, fair taxation and the protection of public services. Sinn Féin is making emigration an issue in this election.
“Our EU Manifesto sets out real actions at a European Level for a fair recovery that creates the circumstances to end forced emigration.
“The EU can play a progressive role in ensuring a fair economic recovery and in turn help put an end to the emigration crisis.
“Sinn Féin also believes that our emigrants should not be denied a voice in our democracy.
“Sinn Féin proposes:
• A Government Task Force on emigration.
• Extending the right to vote in Presidential elections to Irish citizens living abroad.
• Introduce appropriate Diaspora representation in the Dáil by way of a reserved constituency.
• Reform the Seanad to provide Diaspora representation.
• Appoint a Minister for the Diaspora overseas.
“A vote for Sinn Féin is a vote for a future in which all our people can live and work here at home.”