MICHAEL NOONAN HAS said that most emigration by young Irish people is a “free choice of lifestyle” and played down the impact of the country’s unemployment rate on people moving abroad.
“It’s a small island. A lot of people want to get off the island,” the Finance Minister told the media at a briefing on the fifth quarterly review of Ireland’s bailout programme by the Troika of the European Commission, ECB and IMF.
He pointed to the experience of his own family saying that three of his five children are living abroad and that in their case it was a lifestyle choice to move away from Ireland.
The country’s unemployment rate is currently 14.3 per cent with over 180,000 classified as long-term claimants on the Live Register. A recent survey found that four-in-ten people saw no future for themselves in Ireland.
But Noonan said that unemployment was not driving emigration: “It’s not being driven by unemployment at home, it’s being driven by a desire to see another part of the world and live there.”
Figures published last December showed that over 76,000 people had left the country in the year to April 2011 – an increase of nearly 17 per cent – with over half of those being Irish.
“There are always young people coming and going from Ireland,” Noonan also said while adding that the country needed to ensure that people leaving were well enough educated to seek employment abroad.
“What we have to make sure is that our young people have the best possible education, right up to third level,” he said.
As it happened: Noonan and Howlin discuss the latest Troika review >