Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has expressed serious concern about the number of young people in the border region who are out of work and out of education. The latest figures from the CSO reveal that over 21% of 16-24 year olds in the border area are unemployed and not engaged in any education or training courses. The national average for that age group is 15.9%
Deputy Smith commented, “These figures are extremely worrying and fly in the face of Government rhetoric that it’s creating 1,000 jobs a week. In reality, 5,500 have come on stream since the start of the year but few of them have come to this region. There has been a major focus on urban areas in Leinster and the border region has been left behind. The two tier economy is clearly evident in towns across Cavan and Monaghan where boarded up shop-fronts and closed down businesses are common place.
“This area has been starved of investment. In the last two and a half years, there has been only been one IDA sponsored visit to Co. Monaghan and 6 visits to Co. Cavan. Despite reports of an economic recovery, the green shoots are not being felt by the under 25s in this region. There are 10,000 young people who have no work, college or training course to go to.
“Young people in the border region are being forced to leave their home areas because there is nothing there for them. Education opportunities are limited, and despite the excellent options offered by the Education and Training Boards, students are forced to travel to Dundalk, Dublin or further afield to attain a third level qualification. For those who remain, the picture is becoming increasingly bleak.
“Not only is the Government ignoring young people in this area, it is now penalising them by slashing their benefit payments from €190 to €100 a week. Government TDs in Cavan and Monaghan need to stand up for young people here, but have remained deafeningly silent on the issue. It is unfair to leaves thousands of people under the age of 25 languishing on the dole or be forced into an exploitative JobBridge position.
“Youth unemployment needs to be urgently addressed. It is no longer tenable for the Government to gloss over the issue with questionable job plans, which see people forced to work for an extra €50 a week alongside colleagues who are being paid a proper wage. I am urging Minister Humpheys to consult with her Cabinet colleagues to come up real and tangible measures to deal with the youth unemployment crisis in this region”.