‘Could Ireland cope with an influx of people coming home?’
‘Irish Times’ readers abroad on how they see the economy
Geoffrey O’Shaughnessy, Alberta, Canada
If I go by all the news coming from the Government on the growth of the economy, I would say, yes, there are signs of a recovery. But then, on my yearly visits back to Limerick, I hear a different story. Shops are still closing, no new ones are opening, people are barely hanging on to the jobs they have. Pubs are empty: no one goes out for a pint. Whatever money people have, they are more cautious in how they spend it. My decision to come home would be very much linked to an economic recovery. I’m in a full-time permanent job in Calgary, working as an assistant superintendent with a large construction company. I have a good pension and healthcare programme. I’m getting great experience that I would not have got in Ireland. There are also great prospects for promotion. To give all that up to move back to Ireland, the recovery would have to be well bedded in, and the job offer would have to be very lucrative.
Dean Duke, London
I’m not in a particular rush to get home. An unemployment rate of almost 10 per cent is still way too high – there isn’t enough focus on that – and of course that’s relatively low because of the pressure valve of emigration. Could Ireland cope with an influx of people coming home? It annoys me to hear Fine Gael say that tax rates must be cut to attract people back. People left Ireland because of unemployment, not tax rates. I pay more tax here in the UK than I would in Ireland, and I get better public services out of it. Ireland partially got into the mess it was in because of an unsustainable tax base. Now, at the first signs of recovery, politicians are auctioning off tax cuts and spending rises to the electorate. Have we learned nothing?
Patrick Evans, Vancouver
The unemployment rate is 21.5 per cent for people aged between 15 and 24, and that’s after a wave of emigration not seen since the 1980s. The future probably seems pretty bleak to those people. I know: I was one of them before I left. I have a permanent job and health benefits here in Canada, and I work in a shop. I also get paid more than a new entrant to the Civil Service. Imagine being permanent and having benefits in Ireland when you work in a shop. Why would I return to Ireland, where I would be unable to find a house or a decent job? If I was lucky enough to find a job I don’t think I’d be paid a decent wage, be given benefits or have anywhere near the quality of life I do here.