Thousands of Clare school leavers set to emigrate

While Government disintegrates, ESRI spells out reality

The number of people set to emigrate from Ireland this year is truly shocking and one of the main issues coming through on the canvas in County Clare.

Recent ESRI predictions and warning that County Clare will be hit worse than most counties by the expected rise in emigration and unemployment.

While the Government tried to rearrange the deckchairs yesterday, we had a damning report form the ESRI. The prediction is that 60,000 people are set to leave Ireland this year. To put this in perspective, this number is higher than the 50,000 people who will leave full time education in 2011.

I have been canvassing over the past few weeks all over County Clare, and while the economy, public services, Shannon and other issues loom large, I was somewhat taken aback by the extent to which emigration is now affecting so many households throughout the county. It’s pretty clear to me that County Clare, where unemployment levels have remained above the national average for some time now, is losing a generation of our brightest and best young people. This fact is becoming a real and serious threat to future economic recovery.

It’s clear too that government figures have been thrown into question. The Government is predicting that unemployment will shrink to 13.25 this year and 12% next year. But, the ESRI believes levels will stay at around 13.5% this year and only fall to 13% next year.

On the doorsteps people often ask, what difference will it make to our lives should Fine Gael lead the next government. For a start, Fine Gael is the only party who has set out a comprehensive set of jobs policies by launching a new plan for growth and job creation. I myself have fed into this policy with a policy document produced by my office, which would help create a community works type scheme for 40,000 people.

We need to get the Mid-West back to work and ensure that we hold onto out best and brightest young people. It is somewhat ironic that at a time when parents are being asked to pay for third level education, the majority of our third level students will not be able to remain in their country of birth. As anyone who had to leave Ireland in the 1980s can testify, forced emigration casts a dark shadow over a society.

A vote for Fine Gael in this election is a vote for jobs and I am committed to ensure that my generation can remain at home and contribute to Ireland’s recovery and resurgence in the years ahead.