The Return Of Irish Emigration by Annette J Dunlea
Published In The Carrigdhoun 19th Feb 2011 p.9
With unemployment huge and the economy struggling, thousands of Irish people are forced to emigrate in search of better opportunities.Ireland has a long history of emigration but we thought it was over. There have been several other periods of high emigration, including following World War II and during the 1980s, but that trend reversed sharply in the 1990s. Even with the rising numbers of departures, there’s still a notion that the effect is temporary and that emigrants will eventually return, but Noreen Bowden doesn’t think there’s any evidence to back up that idea. Noreen Bowden is a consultant and former director of the Emigrant Advice Network. Ireland has reared a lost generation. The figure confirms what every family in Ireland knows, the country has reared a "lost generation" of twenty something semi-skilled workers and graduates who have no choice but to leave to find a job.
The current depression, which follows the collapse of the property market and huge bailouts for the banks , they has left Ireland facing 15 billion Euros of spending cuts and tax increases in a bid to persuade markets that it can repay its debts. Initially the emigrants were mostly Europeans who had moved to Ireland for work during the boom years, but more recently it’s younger Irish people who are starting to leave as they finish college and are unable to find a job.While the "brain drain" may be a cause for concern for us citizens, the government seems emigration as something to keep unemployment figures in check. Bowden said the figures would likely be even higher if it weren’t for the fact that some people simply can’t leave because of debt and negative equity so families are forced to separate as the father moves abroad to find work to pay the mortgage and support the family.People used to move to UK and the USA but now they are travelling to Canada, Australia and Asia.
The GAA losing 250 players a month to emigration. The GAA is concerned that emigration is creating a haemorrhage of players, with 250 hurlers and footballers a month leaving Ireland.Emmigration is leaving another indelible mark on the community despair. Young unemployed believe government relying on them to emigrate Ireland now has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in Europe : 24.2 percent among 15 to 24 year-olds compared with an average rate of unemployment of 19.9 percent in 2009. The scale of the problem is also masked by a very significant increase in the number of young people re-entering or remaining in education and a huge increase in the number of young people emigrating. Many youths view the lack of jobs initiatives and the cuts being made in social welfare as designed to encourage them to leave.
Some 50,000 people will emigrate this year, and 25,000 jobs will be lost, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute.However, the ESRI says the economy is set to grow by 1.5% this year, with exports increasing by 6%.Gross National Product, which excludes multinational profits, should grow by 0.25% this year and 1.5% next year. This growth will be driven by continuing strong export performance, it says.But most job creation comes from the domestic sector, and here the ESRI says the combined effects of income tax increases in the budget, continuing problems in the banking industry, and a collapse in consumer confidence, will depress demand, leading to some 25,000 fewer jobs.Unemployment is forecast to average 13.5% this year, dropping slightly to 13% next year.The ESRI expects emigration to pick up strongly, with some 50,000 forecast to emigrate this year. This compares to 44,000 who left the country in 1989, the peak year for emigration in the 1980s.
As ESRI's Dr Alan Barrett says the figures are of course uncertain but "If migration is lower unemployment will be higher". That's Hobson's choice for young graduates and for thousands of twenty and thirty-somethings who haven't left the country already.And a survey carried out by the National Youth Council of Ireland indicates that 70 per cent of young unemployed Irish people believe that they will emigrate in the next 12 months. The results of the survey of 150 Irish jobseekers aged between 18 and 25 were published in a report, The Forgotten Generation.
We have 1.8 million people at work, who are carrying a huge burden of debt: The total loans to Irish households and businesses amount to about €350 billion. They also have to deal with Government debt of about €150 billion.Irish policy is being determined by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.The craziest proposition in the history of the State is that a massively indebted society with mass unemployment and mass emigration can underwrite huge private bank debts is unfair and unattainable.
Nothing summarises the dismal failure of this Government as much as their record on unemployment."Umbrella trade union group Congress said the harsh fact was that the true number of people signing on increased by thousands last month.Paul Sweeney, the group’s economic adviser, said: "The cold fact is that that there are a frightening 273,000 less people at work today in Ireland compared to 2007. Furthermore, net emigration will be over 60,000 this year."Jobs are the biggest challenge for any new Government."Youth Work Ireland, which represents 22 voluntary youth groups, said unemployment is the number one issue in Irish society."Increased emigration amongst young people is a major economic issue as this group has been very well educated, now a different country will reap the benefit of this investment and Ireland will lack the people and the skills to build a smart economy."
Fine Gael enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton said emigration was acting like a pressure valve on the unemployment figures."This is a crisis. Ireland’s unemployment crisis is crying out for a targeted solution," he said.Mr Bruton claimed Fine Gael was the only party to have put forward a credible jobs plan which it could implement if put into power.
Our young go abroad for a better experience and job opportunities.The return to high levels of emigration has robbed many rural areas of their young people. People were forced to seek their fortune as exiles in a foreign land.But the little houses are not the only visual evidence of a missing population. There are the empty county schools and halls, the derleict little country shops, the unsused roadside wells and the blackberries hanging unplucked across the country roads which all tell of the population now long gone.We really need to remember that one of the costs of emigration has been the isolation and loneliness of many older Irish emigrants who have lost touch with their families and their communities.
Causes Annette Dunlea Supports
The National Council of The Blind, Ireland