The Archbishop of Dublin has called on the Irish government to take measures to curb emigration as families prepare for Christmas dinner with an ‘empty chair’ at the table.
Dr Diarmuid Martin has urged the coalition parties to introduce new job creation programmes in an effort to stop the rising tide of emigration.
In a seasonal interview with the Irish Independent newspaper, Dr Martin said Irish society was right to miss its emigrants this Christmas because they should never have had to leave in the first place.
The Archbishop, leader of the largest diocese in the Irish church said: “I feel particularly for those families who will have an empty chair at the kitchen table this year.
“Young emigrants might be enjoying their Christmas in places such as Australia and Canada but their parents will miss them and we should miss them - because they shouldn’t have had to emigrate.
“Young people have a right to be angry if we don’t invest in them and give them the opportunity to realise themselves with attractive employment opportunities.
“It is not the Government that creates jobs but a Government can create an environment which is job-friendly. However, in the long term it is the private sector that has to generate a lot more jobs.”
Dr Martin believes the Irish government can do more to aid job creation and highlighted apprenticeships as one potential area to get young people into the workforce.
He added: “Many more big firms should be looking at that and trying to see that there are apprenticeships that are available to young people. Most young people want to work.
“Young people who find themselves out of work for a long period of time are the most vulnerable and the most frustrated.
“High youth unemployment isn’t just a problem for Ireland. It is worse in a number of other European countries. In some places up to 50 per cent of young people can’t get jobs.
“The Government here is dealing with a crisis which is partly Irish in its making and partly international in its making. Pretty drastic measures are needed in order to bring about balance in public expenditure.”
The Archbishop also warned the Government that it should always have ‘a special focus on those who are most vulnerable’.
He told the Independent these included children, the elderly, and people in disadvantaged situations.