Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach 'regrets' emigration

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has spoken of his regret at thousands of young Irish people missing out on Christmas at home because they have been forced to emigrate.

He said he was no stranger to emigration as a child in Co Mayo where it was common for people to move away during the economic crisis of the 1950s.

"I don't like to see people having to go away," said Mr Kenny in an interview in Government Buildings. "This is something that I have seen as a child on so many occasions. Where I come from emigration was endemic unfortunately because of the economic crisis."

The Taoiseach added that the public is aware the current crisis will not be fixed overnight.

"Nobody's going to walk in here and say, 'I'll fix this for you'," said Mr Kenny. "It's only going to get worse unless we deal with it and the choices are unpalatable. But I find genuinely from talking to people they know this and in many ways, the public are ahead of the political process."

He said the previous Government failed to make the most of young, creative and talented people. "I really feel that we've wasted so many years and wasted so much money on not actually focusing on how best we could deliver what we have," said Mr Kenny.

He added that he gets excited by the potential of Irish Masters students and PHDs in engineering. "My preference, obviously, is to have a situation where they can have jobs and careers here, but young people always want to be where the action is," Mr Kenny said.

The Taoiseach added that the Government will have to make tough decisions to get the country back on track. One way he said this could be done was through changing the structure and delivery of services to ensure people get more for their taxes.

Job creation and tackling the country's 14.5% rate of unemployment is the number one priority in the Programme for Government.

Mr Kenny said delivering jobs will eventually allow the economy to grow.

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