As criticism grew over her handling of Ryanair’s offer to create 500 jobs at Dublin Airport, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said some emigration out of the country is “not a bad thing”.
During an interview with BBC’s HardTalk programme, she also said that Irish people “do feel good about ourselves” if we compare ourselves to some of the poorest countries in the world.
With 60,000 leaving the country in the past year, largely because of the economic crisis, Ms Coughlan said: “The type of people who have left, some of them find they want to enjoy themselves and that’s what young people are entitled to do. Moreover, they are coming with a different talent, they are coming with degrees, PhDs, they have a greater acumen academically and have found work in other parts of the world and that’s not a bad thing.”
When it was put to her that Irish people are being offered little hope by the Government, she said: “We do feel good about ourselves. In comparison to others who are much less well off in the world, we are doing relatively well.”
“If you take what has happened in some of the poorest countries in the world, if we were to compare ourselves... I think the Irish psyche is such that we’ve never lost the compassion that we’ve had for others.”
The Tánaiste came under severe criticism for letting up to 500 jobs “slip through her fingers” because of what Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary said was her “inaction” over its proposal to base its aircraft maintenance hangar at Dublin Airport.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said this is not the first time she has missed an opportunity for job creation: “Nothing was done to save jobs in Waterford Glass, nothing was done to save jobs in Dell. And last week, when the jobs were announced to go in Bank of Scotland Ireland it again emerged there had been no real discussions taking place with that bank even though they had been signalling since as far back as last summer that they were going to close their branch network,” said Mr Gilmore.
He agreed with the position taken by Mr O’Leary who’s company does not recognised trade unions. “A job’s a job,” he said.
“Frankly I think the Government should have been taking his arm off and moving whatever had to be moved in order to make that happen.”
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said Ms Coughlan’s home county of Donegal has the worst youth unemployment rate in the country.