Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs Willie O’Dea TD has called on the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to immediately apologise for his insulting remarks on the issue of emigration.
Deputy O’Dea said: “I was disgusted to hear Michael Noonan describe emigration as a ‘free choice of lifestyle’ and adding insult to injury by adding ‘it’s a small island, a lot of people want to get off the island.’
“In the year to April last year 76,000 people emigrated with Irish nationals making up 40,000 or this. For the Minister to be so dismissive of the hurt that emigration has caused thousands of families is astonishing.
“Of course there are many young people who, after college, travel abroad but there is an undeniable link between the high rate of unemployment and the number of people seeking work abroad out of economic necessity. It is very surprising that the Minister for Finance could be so flippant in his remarks.
Speaking about emigration the Minister is reported this afternoon as having said: ‘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.’
Deputy O’Dea said: “The Minister should be more sensitive and should be aware that there are thousands of people, many of whom would like to stay in Ireland and be with friends and family and contribute to their community but out of necessity need to seek employment opportunities abroad.
“The speed at which this government has shown its self to be completely disconnected from the reality being faced in communities is astounding. The claims that first unemployment and now emigration are lifestyle choices demonstrate an increasingly arrogant approach to the problems our country faces.”