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Taoiseach divorced from reality on emigration – Reilly

24 January, 2014

Commenting today on Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s remarks at the Davos World Economic Forum conference regarding emigration, Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Youth Affairs Kathryn Reilly said his words exposed this government’s cold disregard for the harsh realities that face people who have to exist from day to day without work.

She said:

“The Irish youth unemployment figure is estimated to be near 30 %.

"Today an Taoiseach cool-y suggested once again, that emigrating from Ireland for foreign parts is a good thing – a way to gain experience – to then return home after a few years bigger and better than ever.

"He is in denial spinning this tale that Irish people are in some way using difficult times to experience adventure abroad. Is he aware that you have to have to have 3’000 dollars in in account before heading to Australia? Does he know how difficult it is to gain a visa for the US?

"I’m not sure what world he is living in, but hopping on a plane with pockets full of money to hopefully gain employment abroad isn’t an option for many of the people I know.

"He is so far removed from reality that he also fails to recognise that should young emigrants eventually return to Ireland, they will find themselves excluded from rights to things such as the ‘Free Fees’ scheme due to their prolonged absence. Does he realise, for example, regarding the residency requirements for accessing third-level education for returning emigrants, the current system states you must be resident in Ireland for 3 out of the past 5 years to qualify for the 'Free Fees' scheme? Therefore, young people who emigrate for 2 years or more and wish to return to education may be charged full non-EEA (international fees)

"It is irresponsible for the Taoiseach to speak so casually while on foreign delegations about our serious realities at home. It is offensive to those still here who find themselves ensnared in impossibly difficult situations.

"If the job market has not improved drastically within the Taoiseach’s imagined timeframe, returning emigrants will be worse off than ever, having possibly spent any savings they had before leaving, and potentially finding themselves in a weaker position once back.

"Enda Kenny isn’t showing leadership at home when he is so flippant about the harsh realities of people here while abroad."

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