A campaign is underway to stop the Dublin government from attempting to force unemployed youth into emigration with a rally outside Liberty Hall at 11am tomorrow [Saturday].
The 26-County Department of Social Protection has begun threatening to cut unemployment assistance unless recipients apply for jobs abroad. Many young unemployed have already received letters urging them to apply for specific posts in Canada or elsewhere.
The pressure is in response to the demands of the ‘Troika’ -- the state’s international bailout lenders -- for a rapid reduction in Ireland’s unemployment lines.
Groups advocating on behalf of young people will be holding a meeting in Dublin tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon to formulate an action plan to combat youth unemployment, forced emigration and cuts to youth services which “amount to eviction notices for a generation”.
The “Young People’s Assembly” is being organised by the ‘We’re Not Leaving campaign’, supported by youth committees of trade unions, the Union of Students in Ireland, and other organisations. Low-cost bus services are available to bring people to the rally.
A publicity protest outside the Dáil today saw young unemployed ripping up letters from the Department of Social Protection advising them of jobs abroad.
“We are trying to foster a broad youth movement that can put pressure on the Government, come up with meaningful and sustainable alternatives, and allow young people to fight back,” said 24-year-old campaign organiser Moira Murphy.
“We’re also trying to get emigrants themselves involved. Because they have no voting rights or official representation, it is difficult for them to stay politically connected to the country where they would prefer to be living but can’t.
“Social media is the strength of the campaign, and we are spreading word through existing youth groups... The message we want to send is clear. Young people are the future of this country, and we are not leaving.”
The protests are taking place amid increasing discussion of the possibility of the 26-County state exiting from the ‘bailout’ loans offered by the IMF and the EU following the collapse of the national economy and banking system in 2008.
But austerity conditions are expected to become even more stringent as the state will be forced to borrow on international markets while continuing to make onerous repayments to the IMF and EU Troika.
Among the measures introduced in the annual budget in October was a cut in unemployment assistance of almost 50% for some young people. And an attempt last week to collect property taxes in advance for 2014 has shocked householders who are already facing Christmas expenses and winter heating costs.
One symptom of the crisis was seen in new figures from the Central Bank, which revealed this week that the number of people taking out high-cost loans from licensed moneylenders -- so called ‘payday loans’ -- has increased by 20 per cent.
But elsewhere, there were signs that those suffering the brunt of the cuts and taxes were ready to challenge the system. Residents in the Littleplace area of Dublin 15 disrupted the installation of water meters in a protest against the new water charges due to be introduced next year.
The residents, as well as members of the Anti Austerity Alliance, disrupted the work for several hours.
Speaking at the protest, local Socialist Party councillor, Ruth Coppinger, said: “It is scandalous that more than half a billion euro is being spent installing meters when the need for serious upgrade of the Dublin water network has been headline news this week.”
Ms Coppinger was referring to the near-collapse of the Dublin water supply last week which brought nightly rationing across much of the capital. Officials blamed the warm summer weather for causing a sudden deterioration in water quality.
The Socialist Party councillor said the protest was to send a warning to political parties that they will pay the price electorally next May if they persist with the austerity charge. She said the end result of the installation would be the privatisation of Ireland’s water supply.
“On the estate today, we witnessed a brand new fleet of vans, new barriers, diggers, uniforms – a massive outlay of money from the taxpayer in order to charge people for water and eventually sell the network to private companies,” she said.
“Imagine if this money had been invested in upgrading the water pipes and finding secure sources of water for Dublin into the future.”