Sunday, 8 March 2009

Press Release - Looney Demands Action as Tallaght Youth Unemployment Has Biggest Ever Rise

Dermot Looney, the Labour Party candidate for this year’s local election in Tallaght Central, has said that February’s live register figures display the biggest rise in youth unemployment in the Tallaght area in memory. Looney has slammed government inaction on the jobs crisis, saying that there have been no proposals or plans of any significance to curb the rise in youth unemployment, or to get people of any age back to work.

His comments come as the CSO’s live register figures show 7,974 signing on at the Tallaght Social Welfare Office – a jump of 713, or 10%, in the month of February.

Looney, who is based in Greenhills and works in Tallaght, noted that one of the most worrying figures was the youth unemployment rate, which has been spiralling in recent months.

Of the 7,974 out of work, a quarter – 1,974 – are under 25. Youth unemployment in Tallaght has jumped by an extraordinary 46% in the last four months, with February’s rise of 207, or more than 11%, the biggest rise on record. There is also a big gap in the proportion of under 25’s out of work in Tallaght – 25% - and the national figure of 21%.

Looney also noted the overall increase at the Bishop’s Square Welfare Office, used by people in the Dublin 12 and 6w parts of the Tallaght Central ward, which saw the number of those signing on increase from 6,342 in January to 6,916 in February – a jump of 574. There has an increase in those signing on in the last 12 months of almost 93%.

“Working people are the true victims of this crisis,” said Looney, “while the 33,000 millionaires and the undisclosed tax dodgers are hit very lightly indeed – if at all. There is a crisis both in the morality of a system which is punishing the most vulnerable the hardest, and in the policy vacuum at the heart of Government.”

“On the doorsteps, I have talked to countless young people and their families who are most at risk, hearing heartbreaking stories of despair. Even emigration is not an option for many young workers given the global jobs crisis. It is clear at this stage that we need action at three levels – local, national and international.”

“Internationally, my Labour colleague Proinsias de Rossa has proposed that we use the €14 billion in the European Social Fund for youth retraining, education and increasing mobility between sectors and access to the labour market for young people. Nationally, we need to implement new welfare to work initiatives and active labour market programmes as a matter of urgency, supported by decent provision of childcare and education places.

“Locally, the INOU's call for an early warning system for redundancies will provide the time to attract other investment or retrain workers before they lose their jobs. Community Employment schemes, particularly for the long-term unemployed, must be maintained and developed, and talk of prioritising the high-tech sector can’t be allowed to exacerbate social exclusion in working class communities - meaning that no further cutbacks at any level of education are acceptable."