Members of youth groups from across Ireland outside Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin in October 2013
In April 2009, the State contained 1.423 million people aged between 15 and 35. In April 2014, there were 1.206 million in the same age group. That’s a reduction from one generation of more than the entire population of Limerick city and county. This is the age group of rebellion, of adventure, of trying it out and trying it on. It’s the generation that annoys its elders and outrages convention and challenges accepted wisdom. It is demography’s answer to the stultification of groupthink. It is not always right but without its capacity to drive everyone else up the wall, smugness settles over everything like a fine grey dust.
Look anywhere in Ireland that is not a specific redoubt of youth culture, and the place is heavy with middle-age. From the civil service to the media, from politics to the arts establishment, you find demographic landscapes that have been largely frozen for the last six years. The thinning ranks of the young have been unable to mount any sustained challenge to the self-serving orthodoxies of their elders. Which would be fine if the place they leave could afford the consequent culture of stasis and complacency
Our reaction to the economy’s collapse reveals deep flaws in the Irish psyche. Firstly, there have been no protests of note, nor riots. The political awareness of what happened and what is continuing to happen is virtually zero. People have lost their jobs, houses and friends and family members to emigration, every budget in our social services is being slashed to ribbons, and future generations are being buried beneath mountains of debt from which they’ll never escape. But the prescription here seems to be inaction, moaning about expenses and some vague tabloid waffle, blaming the Polish for fiddling the dole when most of them have long since gone home.
…We’ve almost been put in the ground by inflated property prices yet, secretly, all we’re hoping for is another fucking bubble. It doesn’t matter what sort of delusion and corruption has to take place for this to happen. We’re willing to turn a blind eye, again, if it means a return to the glory days of the mid-2000s and another excuse not to confront the bald reality – which is, if you want a sustainable first-world economy, you actually have to make stuff (which we still don’t seem interested in doing).
…But what about our younger people, those too young to have really experienced the bubble? Like I said, many of them have gone, are going or are trying to go. Whether spurred on by university debt or just an unwillingness to waste their lives rattling around their hometowns on a permanent roundabout of JobBridge gigs – Ireland’s equivalent to Workfare – they don’t have the time to fight. Every year 90,000 people leave Ireland, most of them young. And the remaining ones? They don’t have the will. Disenfranchised, demotivated, they struggle to keep their heads above water and some sense of self-esteem intact as they’re funnelled here and there by aforementioned government programmes in the vague hope that – one day – it’ll all end….”
Further to the drop in the number of people signing on the live register.
“This [graph above] measures numbers between the 3rd quarter of 2011 (when unemployment in absolute numbers was at its highest) and the 4th quarter in 2013. The numbers in unemployment fell by 75,000.
However, the number of working age people emigrating was 116,000 while the numbers on labour activation schemes (training, education, etc.) increased by 29,000. The total number emigrating or additional labour activation participants increased at nearly twice the level of the fall in unemployment.”
Michael Taft, economist with UNITE the trade union [who acknowledges that not all emigration "can be put down to recession-related factors"].
Minister of State Brian Hayes (left) spoke on BBC Radio 4′s The World Tonight on Friday with presenter Ritula Shah.
Ritula Shah: “There are a lot of people emigrating. A lot of people are voting with their feet and getting out and there is a question if austerity is to continue, you know how much more can people take?”
Brian Hayes: “Well, emigration has been a feature since our independence from Britain. In the last 12 months, yes, 80,000 people have left. But 50,000 people have come back. And of the 80,000 who have left, half of them were non-Irish nationals who were going back to third countries where they had come from originally in the European Union. There is a lot of churn within the population figures and I think what we need to do is to keep those people in Ireland because they’re going to be the social entrepeneurs, they’re going to be the business start-up people of the future.”
The Irish government has sent letters to approximately 6,000 unemployed people suggesting they should take jobs in other European countries in an effort to reduce unemployment benefits, the Financial Times has reported.
Some of the jobs were poorly paid but came with a “Mediterranean” climate.
An unemployed electrician was encouraged to move to Coventry, while another jobseeker was offered work as a bus driver in Malta.
Dublin defended the move insisting that the positions are voluntary and no one is being forced to leave the country.
[The 'We're Not Leaving' youth protest in October outside Leinster House, Dublin]
Welfare officials have sent 4,000 letters to young people encouraging them to take up work abroad, the Irish Mirror can reveal.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton detailed how her department is urging people on the dole to go to the UK, Spain, France and Norway if they want a job.
…Ms Burton said: “In notifying jobseekers of such vacancies the Department is simply drawing their attention to vacancies that exist and that are simultaneously being brought to the attention of jobseekers in other countries.”
(Sarah Maria Griffin at the Gutter Bookshop,Temple Bar, Dublin last night)
It’s not what it first appears.
Eoin Purcell writes:
We launched Sarah Maria Griffin’s book, “Not Lost: a story about leaving home”, last night. Her husband, who left Ireland with her a year ago, is working in San Francisco so he was Skyped in on the iPad to watch the launch in the Gutter Bookshop.
The memoir is a story about emigration and building a new life away from Ireland. Sarah is only home for the launch and flies back in the first week of December for a Christmas in the USA…
The ladies of Dunedin Connollys in Edinburgh have reached the Tesco Homegrown Junior Club GAA Championship Final. This is a first for a Scottish Club.
The team is made up of players from all four provinces as well as a Scot and a Canadian.
We secured our place by beating St Helens of Longford last Sunday and will travel again to Ireland for the final on November 30th.
The commitment from the players has been unreal with girls flying in and out on the day in order to satisfy work commitments as well as their love of the game.
The girls have been fundraising throughout the year but would appreciate any support /sponsorship very much as the trips to play in Ireland have been self funded…