MINISTER FOR Finance Michael Noonan has sought to clarify a remark on emigration being a lifestyle choice after a torrent of criticism from Opposition parties.
Mr Noonan, speaking at the press conference on the troika’s latest review of the bailout programme, described emigration as “a free choice of lifestyle” and said there were young people constantly leaving and returning to Ireland.
He gave the example of three of his grown-up children, all of whom were living outside Ireland by choice. “It’s not being driven by unemployment at home, it’s being driven by a desire to see another part of the world and live there,” he said.
The comments received heavy criticism from Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. Both parties described them as insensitive and an insult to the thousands of young people who had been forced to leave.
The remarks were compared to those made by former Fianna Fáil tánaiste Mary Coughlan, who was lambasted in 2008 for describing emigration as “not a bad thing” for some young people.