Fianna Fáil talks of its hopes for Ireland but nearby jobseekers look for a way out


POLITICS AND the results of political decisions stood cheek-by-jowl at the weekend when the RDS hosted the Fianna Fáil Ardfheis in the main hall and a working-abroad jobs fair in the nearby Simmonscourt Pavilion.

While the former saw delegates full of hope and enthusiasm, those attending the latter were subdued and uncertain about their futures.

Organisers of the Working Abroad Expo claimed that 5,500 people – many of them carrying CVs – came through the doors on Saturday, about 1,000 more than attended the ardfheis. Numbers visiting the expo were expected to reach almost 10,000 overall.

Expo organisers, the SGMC Group, said the event was the company’s biggest yet, with more than 80 exhibitors offering jobs and advice on emigration and setting up abroad, from Canada, New Zealand, Dubai to Australia.

Many of those queuing before 10am on Sunday said that they had hoped to arrive early to beat the queues, but had not been successful.

Elaine Hennessey (29) from Dundrum, a graduate in finance from UCD, said she was trying to be positive about the experience. “I wouldn’t mind working abroad for a few years, but I want to come back,” she said.

Ms Hennessey, who said she formerly worked in a bank, was queuing with Kevin Hickey (33) who was “looking for a job in IT and prepared to go anywhere”. Mr Hickey said it was “not lost on us that Fianna Fáil is next door”, while Ms Hennessey commented on the apology made by the Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin for his party’s role in leading Ireland to seek an international bailout. “He said sorry. Tell that to the children of these people who will be paying back that money for 40 years,” she said.

Michael Flynn (26) from Tallaght said he was a “brickie” but hadn’t worked for more than two years. “I am just here to see what is out there.” Asked if he was aware of the ardfheis on next door he said: “No. No interest, feck ’em.”

Liam Kelly (36) of Stillorgan, Co Dublin, said he had a job but was looking “at opportunities because tax and the cost of living in this country is going to be too high. There won’t be any quality of life, no money for a second car, a holiday or healthcare or college.”

Mr Kelly said he had two daughters in primary school and was concerned that in a few years his family may be resistant to moving. “We advise participants to bring their CVs with them to give to prospective employers who are here today to recruit,” said David Walsh business development manager with SGMC Group. He said the €10 admission charge for visitors was “not to make money”. It was, he said, about controlling the amount of people who come through the doors.

Asked about the ardfheis next door, Mr Walsh smiled and said: “We make absolutely no comment on that.” Mr Walsh said the expo had been running twice yearly since 2004 and while it “was busy during the boom too” this weekend’s expo was the biggest yet. “We will be in Cork on Wednesday,” he added.

Asked about vacancies for journalists abroad, Mr Walsh replied: “There are none.”

On the way out Daryll Kirby of Dunboyne was handing out leaflets for Careline International Moving and Storage, including pet shipping.

“They had to lock the gate yesterday at 11am, the queues were all the way to the bridge in Ballsbridge. As long as this keeps up, I have a job,” he said.