FINE Gael deputy Joe Carey has described as both “shocking and frightening” the number of people from Clare being forced to emigrate because of the lack of employment opportunities.
He admitted the gravity of the problem was emerging on the canvas trail and was also reinforced by a damning report from the ESRI, which predicted that as many as 60,000 people are set to leave the country this year.
“To put this in perspective, this number is higher than the 50,000 people who will leave full-time education in 2011. County Clare will be hit worse than most counties by the expected rise in emigration and unemployment,” he warned.
”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 also clear too that government figures have been thrown into question. The Government is predicting 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.
“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,” he commented.