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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Forced emigration was wrong in the 80's and is wrong today

I have such nostalgic and happy memories of the 1980’s. I try to remember the happy stuff and block out the bad. The 80’s brought us UB40, Simply Red, REM, Sinead O Connor and the best of Queen and U2. It also brought us Wham, Frankie goes to Hollywood, Bananarama and let’s not forget Kajagoogoo. Decide for yourself the good and the bad. We had assassination attempts on the Pope and US President Ronald Reagan. E.T. was released as a movie, Michael Jackson released Thriller and Mikhail Gorbachev called for Glasnost and Perestroika. We also saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Maze Hunger Strikes and the emergence of the cabbage patch kids. A mixed bag indeed.

Sadly it also brought forced emigration and a flight of the brightest and the best from our shores. It was wrong in the 1980’s and it is wrong today. The latest ESRI quarterly economic commentary predicted that emigration in Ireland was set to hit 120,000 by the end of 2011. The latest live register figures show 452,500 nationally and 15,614 locally out of work. Mass emigration is back with a vengeance.

It seems the current Government’s answer to rising unemployment is to export it. They cut the dole for young people, did very little to provide new training and education opportunities and even less to stimulate the economy and create jobs. We are yet again seeing the brightest and the best leave this country due to the incompetence of its political leaders to provide a future. Unemployment is not a price worth paying for a negligent Government – it destroys lives and leaves permanent scars on our communities. What this Government fails to accept is that behind every statistic is a personal tragedy.

Fianna Fáil cannot claim any economic competence when they are complacently presiding over increasing unemployment. The government is determined to slash public services and put even more people on the dole. A bit like some of the music choices referred to earlier, forced emigration was not cool in the 1980’s and it is not cool today. We need real political change and we need it now.

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