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Taoiseach: Youth employment will be priority for EU Presidency

His comments came in light of a report today that showed a rise in suicide in Ireland clashed with both the economic downturn and an increase in unemployment.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil today.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil today.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said that youth employment will be a priority for Ireland’s European Union Presidency, following criticism in the Dáil this morning over a new report on suicide.

United Left Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett challenged the Taoiseach on the report which he said “directly linked” the spike in suicide rates in Ireland to recession and unemployment.

“”The highest increases in suicide were in Ireland and in Greece,” he said. “The facts speak for themselves. Austerity policies are producing despair and hopelessness among young people.” Boyd Barrett said that if the government treated young people as second class citizens, they would feel like second class citizens.

The Taoiseach said the challenge now for the government was to rectify the problems inherited from the previous administration. “I sympathise with every family that has lost a life to suicide,” he said. “The report published today will indicate unfortunately that the rate here is the highest in Europe.”

Kenny said there are always “different pressures on young minds” and that there was a huge range of organisations working to support them. He said that young people had to trust the government as it was important that  decisions were made to allow confidence to come back into the economy to provide opportunities for them. He added that a programme of measures to tackle the issue are currently being developed.

Boyd Barrett said it was not just young people who were unemployed who are feeling the pressure and hopelessness, referring particularly  to those working in the public sector. “We see the same sense of despair felt by people who can’t find work in the cases of nurses and teachers who are being treated like second class citizens,” he said.

The Taoiseach rejected comments from opposition TDs that the government was belittling graduate nurses with its recent scheme offering 1,000 places with a reduced rate of pay.

“This is an opportunity for Irish men and women, as trained nurses, to work in Irish hospitals at a salary of €22,000 or €25,000, get experience, build on training and not to have prospect of going abroad,” he said.

Read: Report: Irish rate of young male suicide ‘among EU’s highest’>

Read: INMO: Minimal applications means boycott on nurse graduate scheme working>

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