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Knowledge economy strategy is killing rural Ireland

The IDA is writing the requiem for rural Ireland.

With 400,000-plus on welfare, the IDA persists in its policy of confining its job-creating activities to that twin-sister of the construction economy — the “knowledge economy”.

European governments must have smiled as they watched Ireland pursue an economic policy that was based on the building of houses, must have asked themselves what happens when they run out of flood plains on which to build?

Their smiles will be even more expansive as they witness a government create jobs for which its citizens do not possess the necessary qualifications and the labour markets abroad have to be trawled in search of workers to whom work permits will be issued. Is it not perverse? The young Irish people who are fleeing Ireland are passing in transit the permit workers for whom the IDA is creating jobs.

Those who come to Ireland to fill the IDA jobs will congregate in cities and larger towns. Rural Ireland will soon be decimated. The parents whose children would have enrolled in the rural schools would have provided the life-blood for sporting and cultural organisations will now be working abroad while an over-populated Dublin will be draining the Shannon.

Right now the IDA is using as a selling point the availability of a workforce with a broad range of language skills. The school principal in rural Ireland or the secretary of the local GAA club should ask themselves the simple question; how many of our disappearing parents/members have the absolute fluency in a foreign language to fill one of the jobs being hunted down by the IDA. And we are speaking here of fluency, not Leaving Cert French or German.

The ESRI (if the ‘S’ in their title has any significance) should be sounding the alarm, should be telling government that its job-creation agency is engaged in the business of carrying out an anaesthetic-free lobotomy on those communities it presumes to govern.

And what of the “untermenschen”, those young people who have left the educational system without the qualifications that might, perhaps, have made them welcome in one of the host countries? For them — nothing.

If that same ESRI cannot forecast the social disorder which our job-creation policies must inevitably lead to — are even now priming — then that body should fold its very comfortable tent and fade softly into the sad, sad night.

Those rural parents who are even now waving goodbye to their sons and daughters must ask themselves this question; what is to be their future? When rapidly diminishing numbers make uneconomic the provision of hospitals, post offices, garda stations, even, dare I say it, pubs? Will government provide them with legally-held shotguns to protect themselves in an un-peopled countryside.

The Labour Party tells us we are leaving the old economy and entering a “new economy”. We surely are, and in the process of throwing out the babies, born and yet to be born, with the bathwater.

Peadar Kelly


Dublin 11


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