In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy brings a message of hope and encouragement to the many thousands of unemployed in Ireland.

One of the heaviest crosses felt in Irish Society at this time, is the bleak reality of having no job. Unemployment is devastating. Not being employed is a tragic consequence of an economy that has imploded because of greed and lack of accountability. I recently called to visit a young couple, both highly qualified. Years of investment, education had brought them to a place where both are skilled in their respective careers as a Solicitor and Electronic Engineer. The reason for my visit however, was a sad one. The following day they were emigrating to Perth, Australia. “There is nothing for us here”, this negative mantra is being said daily by tens of thousands of young people who have to leave this country, because simply, there is nothing for them here. The young couple shared with me that they had great dreams to build a family and future life here in Ireland. They also were anxious and troubled because saying goodbye to their elderly parents was particularly painful. The ‘Brain Drain’ of highly qualified, talented young people from our shores is a terrible tragedy, felt by so many families at this time.

I also had reason to visit the Social Welfare Office in Kennedy Street, Carlow. It took forty minutes to be able to get to the relevant desk to get information. I was taken by the atmosphere as I stood in a line. It was packed with hearts full of potential and yet prohibited from the opportunity and possibility of work. To work is a fundamental need. An innate desire to contribute and share. Because of unemployment there is   a crisis of self worth and self image at this time.  No qualified, skilled young person, would willingly sacrifice salary and fulfilment for €188 (the maximum job seekers benefit).

The IMF, has affirmed the Irish Economy, in its self-regulating enormous budget deficit. However it does so at enormous cost. The billions of euro, to save toxic banks and bad debt simply, in my opinion, is a disaster. As we come near another draconian budget, to appease Europe and the IMF, little if anything is being done to tackle unemployment. Without emigration, this crisis would be even greater. However, we are as a nation losing our gifted and talented future generations.

This is a time for us all to remind ourselves, that we are greater than the doom and gloom of this recession. When we can tap into a positive and hope-filled spirit under our own skin at least we may not be overwhelmed by the present moment. It is very important for all who are unemployed to experience our support and encouragement. It is not their fault to find themselves without work. Work is something that is positive, that leads to fulfilment and contributes to the greater good. Without work things begin to fall apart. Not just personal resources but even more detrimental, mental health becomes vulnerable.

In the spirit of hope and opportunity, I pray for bold and courageous leadership, as our new government tackles, this serious problem. Old ways of remedy has proven not to work. Now is a time to stop playing to the IMF and Europe’s tune. And to listen to the spirit and potential of a generation soon to be forgotten, because of emigration and unemployment.