CLARE had a genuine jobs crisis not so long ago.
It was one of the bleakest times in living memory in the county. Thousands emigrated, countless businesses closed, taxes increased, incomes fell, mental health issues soared and a general sense of decline and unease hung over our towns and villages.
Given that this was all recent enough to be fresh in the memory of every adult who lived in the county at the time, it is disappointing that people are trying to conflate the recent announcement of job losses with an employment crisis.
There is no doubt that losing one’s job creates a very definite personal crisis. For many of us our work shapes our identity; for almost everyone it creates the means to provide for themselves and their dependents, and when it is stripped away, an array of problems appear.
Many Clare people who had been in seemingly secure and well-paid employment are dealing with this vista today, and they certainly deserve whatever empathy and support can be offered.
However, to pretend that there is a wider crisis right now is just outlandish.
As it stands, Clare enjoys – or is very close to enjoying – full employment. In historical terms this is a rare state and it would have been seen as an economic Utopia five years ago.
There have been comparisons drawn between the recent announcements of job losses in Clare and the closure of Dell in 2009. Having been at the Limerick plant on the day those redundancies were announced, I can say with some certainty that the equivalence is hugely flawed.
The Dell redundancies came at a time when the Irish economy was imploding, when the worst recession seen in a developed European country since World War II was biting. Again, while those losing their jobs in Clare in 2019 deserve every support, the jobs market they are facing into is completely different to those unfortunate souls who lost their jobs in the utterly bleak month of January 2009.
Realistically, people losing their jobs now will, in almost all cases, be able to find work. In 2009 it was virtually certain they would not.
Clare still has serious problems. The west of the county is dealing with depopulation, our airport is still struggling, and the health services available to us are often shambolic.
These are genuine problems, serious enough ones, without whipping up hysteria about a crisis that simply does not exist.
People on Live
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