It was Conor Cruise O'Brien who wrote that: "Irishness is not primarily a question of birth or blood or language ; it is the condition of being involved in the Irish situation, and usually being mauled by it." Irishness is a state of mind in many ways.
Ireland has an extensive trail of emigrants in her tracks, and many of the well known amongst them happened to be notorious writers. Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Oliver St. John Gogarty, Brendan Behan, and even the grand doyenne of Irish Literature, Ms. Edna O'Brien. O'Brien whom left long ago, says that her family's local church would carry out burnings of her sacrilegious book, that told a tale of sexually passionate women, 'The Country Girls'. Wilde, of course, was tragically misunderstood by an ignorant society constructed to protect the people of that time from the facts of sexuality. Most of these such people contested the prevalently held superstitions of society within the margins of their time. Ireland has a distinguished history of emigration, and for a time while it was an insular theocracy, had an infatuation with exiles. Famine, Recession, and a lack of opportunity have all been contributing factors in young Irish people seeking a better living outside of Ireland. So many of our greatest minds, and notorious social liberators, have been part of that Diaspora.
This once holy land of Ireland, has seen ten million people emigrate from the island since 1800. More Irish people have taken abroad becoming immigrants in other countries, than those whom remain to brazen it out and suffer on our Celtic isle. In 2009, the Irish State contained 1.4 million people aged between 15 and 35. Five years on, half a decade later, with our economy still battered and bloodied, in 2014, there are 1.2 million in the same age group. In the year between April 2012 and April 2013, the amount of people whom emigrated from Ireland is estimated to have reached a whopping 89,000. Which is a significant increase of 2.2 % on the 87,100 recorded in the previous year. This year emigration has only just lessened to 81,900. Ultimately, in the last five years, we have lost 151,000 people. A throwback to the emigration crises of the 1950s and 1980s, when high unemployment drove thousands of mainly working class people out and away from their homes to seek a livelihood elsewhere. Of all this, ladies and gentlemen, we are being told that we should all of us not worry, as our bronze haired Celtic warrior-in-chief, Alexander the Average, Enda Kenny, reassures us that he indeed does knows what he is doing. There is, unfortunately, evidence supporting otherwise. When Enda is not "frisking to Pharrell Williams, or frolicking over Flowers Pots, he is saving our economy. If only he could save us from himself.
A recent report, entitled "Irish Emigration in an Age of Austerity," by University College Cork , found that people in their twenties made up over 70% of Ireland's emigrants between 2006 and 2012. Many more curious facts emanate. Today's emigrants, are of an academic elite, being as they seem to be much more likely to have a high standard of education, than that part of the population which we call 'general'. This displays flagrantly the loss of skills from our Emerald Isle. It is not unlike T.S. Eliot's eternal Footman holding our coat, snickering and reminding us that it is time to be on our way. Not necessarily experiencing the same level of unemployment as Spain or Greece, Ireland appears to have experienced significantly higher levels of emigration per capita than other Western European countries, they too affected by the Eurozone crisis. Us Irish have paid more in emigration than any of our EU 'partners'. When one thinks of the many wrongful reasons some feel for which they are leaving, one should remind oneself that the Irish are paying the billion euro bills of unaccountable gambling bankers, scoundrel bondholders, and idiot politicians, one can then hardly but at all blame them for their evacuation.
The unique vision, skills, charisma, nerve, and ideas of these young people are being neglected by bubble-headed and careless political managers. Irish young people, just like that of the biblical Magi, then bring to bare their gold, frankincense, and myrrh, to foreign countries. Leaving the stable, as it were, without promising gifts. As Frank McCourt's Grandmother once quipped, "'Tis a good thing you didn't own that stable in Bethlehem or the Holy Family would still be wanderin' the world crumblin' with the hunger." In our case, the stable is indeed crumbling. Young people pay the taxes of foreign countries, and create their own businesses abroad. Underemployment is also a major driving factor, with 13% of emigrants working in part-time jobs before their departure. Many are recent graduates whom left to obtain work experience. There are more starving families in Ireland now than in quite some time I am told, and it was reported that some homeless families are quartered in hotels after being pushed out of their homes by the very institutions that have impoverished them, the banks. Teachers are also reporting that more children are complaining of hunger in classrooms than they have heard in so long. Homelessness is an epidemic, as is suicide. This might sound like the chirping of a constant nag and perfect cynic, but it is also simply true. This is important fact.
In five to ten or so years, ladies and gentlemen, we will for us here, experience turbulence. As the retirement generation depend on the Irish youth to fund their pensions. Unless there is an influx of more people to pay those pensions, taxes will have to rise. If younger generations have not the revenue to pay for these pensions it invites inequality. To govern, we must acknowledge, is to choose how to ply the funds of the public purse. To say what money goes from whom to whom for what. Some people earn more money than others. This is an invincible fact. Thomas Piketty, the French 'Rock Star' Economist, in his authoritative recent book 'Capital', explains that in America, the wealthiest 1% appropriated 60% of the increase in American national income between 1977 and 2007. The question we should ask ourselves, is whether the wealthy should pay proportionately more money to the government than those who earn less. In The Financial Times book review, Michael Wolf kindly pointed out that "Piketty shows that there is no general tendency towards greater economic equality and that the relatively high degree of equality seen from the 1950s to the 1980s was the result of deliberate policy".
Many young people cannot afford to stay and live here so they are moving away. We are at 11.5% unemployment nationally, with 25.1% of those under 25 unemployed. So what have us young passengers of this Irish economy got to protect ourselves from a potential economic iceberg? A youth guarantee scheme. To prevent long-term youth unemployment, our Government has launched a programme that will supposedly guarantee young people either a place in education, training, or a job.
One of the conditions of this "Youth Guarantee" is that JobBridge will now become mandatory. JobBridge offers placements for young people in businesses for an additional €50 a week, it is also perhaps the most abused body since the Trojan Horse. And speaking of weathered warhorses, I recently encountered former Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, at a press conference in Dublin's Liberty Hall. There was not much Liberty had that afternoon. Quinn, is one of The Three Retired Musketeers of The Labour Party, each of whom had not enough powdered their rifles and have been consequently out-gunned, Eamon Gilmore and Pat Rabitte being the other two political servicemen. All three now prematurely out of Government. The only cabinet of which they are now members is the cabinet of curiosities. Pointing out that many say it is merely a cheap Labour scheme being abused by businesses, Quinn responded to me thusly then: "Well, you know, sure it's not supposed to be a double bed." It may not be a double bed, but it is akin to that of a bunk bed. One worker's bed has a hot water bottle and cotton blankets, and the other's has creepy crawlies and broken springs, despite them each doing the same job. Shopping centres look for shelve stackers, aquatic centres look for slide cleaners, tyre companies look for fitters, computer companies look for secretaries, my Aunt Catherine said one business advertised for a "sandwich decorator", and all these "Internships" are saving them quite a bit of cash. They hire staff to do work for cheaper than they would normally have to. Many of these businesses demand you have a college qualification. Our current Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Joan Burton is the architect of this manor of the unfortunate.
The Youth Guarantee states:
In the case of young people, failures to engage that will give rise to sanctions will include:
Failure to apply for or accept an opportunity on the national internship scheme (JobBridge)
Sanctions will be quite the stinger. Young people could see their Jobseekers payment cut by up to 25%. Not to mention that JobSeekers benefit has already been cut back to €100 a week. So a full week of work on JobBridge would amount to an underwhelming €150. Would Joan Burton work for that? She would in her arse. Also, the loss of taxes paid by workers from the companies is an increased loss for the Irish exchequer, because of the potential revenue accumulated from taxpayers in a job. It also distorts the market as it can see a situation where JobBridge could be increasingly used by companies to reduce labour costs to remain competitive. What begins as a rational scheme by providing young people with experience in the field they are seeking to find work, is then jeopardized by possibly becoming a scheme where more and more employment can only be found through subsidized internships. Ireland, the Republic of Internships and Emigration.
Of the most efferous cuts, one might be good to nominate those made to third level education. Students from lower-income families are constrained to apply for jobs less challenging than what they desire, rather than gaining academic qualifications which will help them develop themselves in a way they see fit. Instead, they are being corralled into living a life they do not desire in order to serve their economy. An economy pulled down by those people whom made reckless political and legislative decisions. Some young people are content to work in a comfortable office job being 'useful' for their economy. This is not satisfying for everyone, however, and there are those of us who strive for more exceptional work. It is fine should you be happy to work a relatively comfortable and regular job, just do not expect me and some others to do the same. We want a more colourful life. It makes one mindful of that definition by the admirable Oscar Wilde as he once outlined the enemy of Individual development:
"There are three sorts of despots. There is the despot who tyrannizes over the body. There is the despot who tyrannizes over the soul. There is the despot who tyrannizes over the soul and body alike. The first is called the Prince. The second is called the Pope. The third is called the People."
To be Irish, is to have been in the Irish situation and have been mauled by it. We Irish, however, are fierce and resilient, and people are beginning not to accept this tyranny, and their rejection and opposition will result in the labefaction and undoing of the current political elite. Things will turn around in spite of this government's policies.