My husband died over eleven years ago, and since then it has been me and my daughter. She is 25 years old and in October she is emigrating.

She is a highly educated young woman having completed a BA in English and Politics in UCC and going on to complete a Masters in Journalism in DCU.

However, upon graduating, due to her not being able to find employment, she was forced to take a job in a call centre. Not that she was ungrateful for the job, she was lucky to have one at least, but it did not pay well and it was not what I had paid out all that money for. I invested in her future in the hope that she would be able to stay here .

However, she and four of her friends are now being forced to leave. Her friends are also highly educated – social workers, programme developers, and graphic designers.

What was really disheartening for me – as her mother – was to watch her do a job that she had no passion for. It really did kill me to see her slog away in a job that she could have gotten without any college courses.


She is the only thing I have left and I am utterly heartbroken that she has to leave this country. This month I will wave goodbye to her at the airport and I don’t know when I will see her again – that is what really upsets me. My heart wants her to stay but my head wants her to go – she has her own life to lead and she can’t stay here for her mammy.

The only other emotion I feel apart from heartache is anger – anger that the government don’t seem to live in reality and understand the gravity of the situation.

My blood boiled when I heard Minister Noonan’s words stating that it is a “lifestyle choice” that children are leaving the country. He has some nerve speaking to the children who would love nothing more than to stay here in the country where they were born and raised. And he has some nerve speaking to the many parents who have had to wave their children off at the departure gates. Does he really think that these students want to leave their home not knowing when or if they will ever return again.

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Exporting our young

Those flippant remarks he made were degrading to parents across Ireland. They were hurtful remarks with no thought about what families are going through and the tough decisions people are making on a daily basis. We are educating our young and paying a high price to do so, to ensure they are the best in the world and then we are shipping them off. They are our best assets and we are exporting them. These are the people that will make this country what it is meant to be again.

It is all getting very real for me. My daughter handed in her notice, she is getting her travel injections done so it will not be long now until she is gone. I haven’t really said, in such an emotional way, about how I feel about her leaving. It is the right thing for her to do and it is not right for me to weigh in on her decision with such emotions, but it won’t be easy.

She will be away for Christmas and possibly the one after. She is also missing a significant birthday here so it will be tough. I am not the only one that must be feeling like this, I know I am not. There are thousands of parents across Ireland that are in the exact same boat as me. My daughter is lucky in one way that she does not have any ties here that would prevent her from leaving and finding work – that is one positive thing.

My baby

I am very close to my daughter and although she is a grown woman it doesn’t stop me from worrying about her far away in a foreign country – every parent feels like that I am sure, no matter what age their children are, you still think of them as your babies.

People may think that it is silly to say that I am not sure when I will see her again – but I am not. She has saved nearly two years for the money for her ticket to Australia. It is not just an hour flight away. I myself am an educated woman. I have a HDip, but I too cannot find work. The most humiliating thing I have ever had to do is sign onto the dole. I am also in negative equity and I could lose my house next year – I am struggling. Unless I get a very good job, there really isn’t a hope that I will get to visit her.

The question that angers me and I am constantly asking is – why does she have to leave her country? It is a simple question but one that angers me so much. She could give back so much to this country as could many many other young educated people but they are being forced to leave – the important word for the government to remember is that they are being forced. Simple as that.

This is not a holiday for them, these people are leaving their families, friends, their whole lives – and it is not out of choice.

My daughter says she will miss me – but I know that it is for the best that she goes. I want to see her find her passion again and do something that makes her happy, that is what all our young people deserve, to work at something they have trained long and hard for.

I don’t think that our politicians have a clue what the average Joe Soap is going through. They are cutting the most vulnerable, the disabled, the mental health budget, the unemployed and they are keeping the higher paid people in a job.

Where is the fairness. I have to send my daughter away so that she has a future, how is that just.

Mary McCarthy lives in Cork.

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