Direct Democracy Ireland Press Release on Emigration
This month could possibility see a historic change for Ireland as it could take the first step back on the road to direct democracy after its removal from the Constitution over ninety years ago. With a groundswell of desire for real change in the way the country is run, the election of a Direct Democracy Ireland (DDI) TD in the Meath East By-Election is a possibility. However, on the day of the vote count approximately 200 people, including myself, will have our bags packed and will be flying off to begin a new life in a foreign land, leaving our family and friends behind.
Certain politicians have referred to this mass emigration as a “lifestyle choice”, and in one sense I would have to agree with them. Living a life of poverty and claiming unemployment benefits is not a life that myself and the vast majority of others in my situation wish to live. So my lifestyle choice is simple, I am forced to leave just to find something akin to normal expectations of life.
I am aware that this account does not cover all of the reasons why people are leaving Ireland in their droves, but it covers some of them and is based on my own personal experience.
Currently the official unemployment figures in my local area are over 30%. Allegedly there has been a 6% drop that has been “welcomed” by local politicians. However, I do not for one minute believe that this drop is due to people finding employment. These figures are simply being massaged by mass emigration and by shuffling people off the live register on to numerous re-education and employment schemes that are in place. When these are taken into account the unemployment figures are much higher in reality.
One such scheme is the Obáir – Local Employment Service Network (LESN) , which aims to help people who have been unemployed for 3 years or more, to help them find work or a suitable course to improve their chances of finding employment. This is great for those who need it, however, after being unemployed for only 6 weeks I was put on this scheme. This is absurd considering I have a degree, experience and numerous other qualifications. The gentleman who was explaining how the scheme works could not understand why I was signed up with them. He felt it would be of no benefit to me personally because they had no real assistance to offer someone with my experience. The man did explain something very interesting though, revealing that by moving to the LESN I will be taken off the social welfare register, reducing the official figures.
He proceeded to explain other employment schemes that I might find beneficial, especially Job Bridge. It did not take long to see Job Bridge for what it really is. Advertised positions include jobs for fully qualified architects needing a degree and a minimum of 5 years experience, while at the other end of the scale there are positions for waiters, cleaners and for people to stack shelves in local supermarkets. These are not paid positions and require ‘interns’ to work 40 hours per week for a meagre €50 on top of dole payments. This equates to around half the minimum wage.
Apparently putting the label ‘intern’ on a position makes it acceptable for employers to exploit people with government approval. It is blatantly obvious, as shown above, that there are some employers who are taking full advantage of Job Bridge to get free labour, as the success rate for those securing employment with any company after they complete an internship is only around 24%. Government claim a range of different figures based of varying constraints, but the experience on the ground is not as reported with many people working 5 to 6 months as an intern then being told they do not meet requirements and let go in the last weeks before a real job should be offered. What is not in the statistics is how many employers are repeatedly taking on interns as a source of free labour.
I do not want to spend years working for free or being forced to do courses for things I am not interested in, especially when I am already fully qualified, just to massage the unemployment figures. I am not prepared to sit around for years with no hope of escaping poverty and planning my future. This is only one of a multitude of things that need to change in this country. If this situation continues as it is we will lose our skilled, educated work force to far off lands, and any hope of a recovery will disappear with them. They will not be like the emigrants of the 1980’s and return when Ireland becomes prosperous again. They will be like the emigrants of the 1950’s and set up a new life abroad. The reality is that many of them do not plan to return unless there is a significant change in Ireland, and not just an economic change, they want to see an entire change in attitude !
The Celtic Tiger is long gone, but people’s greed and begrudgery has stayed the same. Nobody wants to see anyone else getting something they are not, and the government is using this ‘attitude problem’ to divide and conquer the Irish people with masterful ease. Reversing everyone’s employment rights and driving each and every work sector towards slavery one at a time. The brightest of the Irish can see this and are leaving.
Amongst the current emigration generation the debate has changed. No longer are they looking for a simple change in government in a vain hope that a new coalition will make everything better. This generation now realises that changing from one tried and failed set of politicians and policies to another almost identical one has not and can not work. They realise that unless the people of Ireland adopt a completely new way of thinking and of governing themselves, where people can exercise control over those who would drive us into this economic and social crisis, then there is literally nothing to come back for.
Late in 2012 I found out about the evolution of Direct Democracy Ireland into a new political service. I quickly saw that what they had to offer in terms of returning the people’s power over TDs and government policy was so different to what every other established political party was offering that I just had to get involved. From the pre-launch of DDI to where we are now, just a week away from the vote in the Meath East By-election, I have worked all the hours I can using all my education and skills to develop a brand for DDI and manage aspects of their identity, structure and campaign. I did it this free, but unlike a Job Bridge placement I did it all with enthusiasm because I can see the groundswell of excitement and goodwill that surrounds DDI when people find out what it stands for, and what it wants to give back to the Irish people.
Sadly enthusiasm isn’t enough to keep me here because, like so many others, I too need to start my chosen career and get paid work so that I can get on with my life. Ironically I will be on the aeroplane flying to the other side of the world when the Meath East election results are announced. If with my help DDI were to win the by-election it might be a turning point for Ireland’s mindset and a positive step towards even more success in the general election in 3 years. Unfortunately for me and so many others the change hasn’t come in time and we are forced to leave our country.
It is said that one definition of madness is ‘to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the result to be different’. This is what the Irish people have done for decades every time they go out to vote. If the people of Ireland turn up again and vote back the previous government party that started this crisis then I fear there is no hope of saving Ireland. I hope though that the excitement I have seen on the streets about DDI will transfer into votes, and that this will be the first step towards a permanent positive change in Ireland’s political system, throwing out the old family dynasties, the cronyism, and the failed economic policies.
I want my country back and I want to come home again, and because of that I will even work for DDI from the other side of the world to help achieve the complete system change that we need. If we are going to get a change that really means something then we need Direct Democracy and we need to control our own future more than ever.
DDI Brand Manager
All correspondence to:
National Office: D House Finnegans Way, Trim, Co. Meath, Ireland.