Ireland's Eye: What's going on in the old sod
Fears of an exodus of Donegal’s young people will intensify in the New Year as many prepare to head overseas in search of work.
Among them are many well-educated graduates who say they have no alternative but to leave home.
Student Union president of Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Marian Gibbons from Fanad, a graduate in law studies at the college, says like many of her friends, she is also being forced to emigrate in search of work.
The 26-year-old mother of two says that along with her fiancé and their two children, they have no choice but to leave the country when her current contract expires in June.
As a legal graduate she said her first choice would be to stay and complete her apprenticeship with a local legal firm, but with little prospect of that happening she and her family are set to head to New York where she can apply her qualifications in getting legal work after taking exams for the New York Bar.
"We are getting married on New Year's Day then myself, my husband and two kids are heading off. We have no option," Gibbons stated.
She said talk of heading overseas for work is prevalent among many of her friends and fellow graduates.
"I feel like I have no choice and so many of my friends are the same," she added.
"I personally feel it is such a waste of resources. The government ploughed so much money into getting people through education and we are going off now to benefit another country. Where's the logic in that?" she asked.
Gibbons said that when she qualifies in her bar exams she would expect to be able to start work immediately, but a stark warning to any prospective emigrants who may travel to U.S. without putting plans in place before they travel has been given by a veteran campaigner for the undocumented Irish in America.
Bundoran town councilor Michael McMahon said there has been a significant rise in the numbers of young Irish in cities like New York, Boston and Philadelphia, but with the economic downturn in the U.S. many of them are struggling to survive abroad.
He said he would advise any young person to put basic contingencies in place, such as accommodation, before they even consider traveling.
McMahon said the announcement by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan of a drop in unemployment recently figures only masked the fact that a certain percentage of those have already left for the U.S. in search of work.
"He should take a walk around Webster Avenue or Jerome Avenue or Queens to see Irish kids walking up and down the avenues looking for work. I was annoyed that he didn't take into account the amount of people that are leaving," McMahon said.
He added that since the downturn there had been a "swell" in the number of undocumented Irish flocking to America.
- Donegal Democrat
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