COUNCILLOR Kevin Sheahan has said there is a “terrifying prospect” of long term damage to the economy due to the emigration happening now.
Speaking on the release of the latest unemployment figures - which show a drop of almost 500 people month-on-month - Cllr Sheahan says he fears Ireland will become an ageing population, similar to Japan, which has one of the lowest birth rates in the world.
Thousands of youngsters have emigrated since the start of the recession, and Cllr Sheahan believes even if the economy becomes buoyant once again, there will not be a demand for housing and school requirements, and other things starting a family creates a need for.
The unemployment figures released from the Central Statistics Office show that the number of people out of work county-wide have dropped from 17,691 at the end of October, to 17,216 at the end of November, a drop of some 475 people.
The dip is most pronounced in the city area, with a fall of 386 people - from 12,600 at the end of October, to 12,214 now.
At Kilmallock’s welfare office, the number of people claiming has fallen from 2,272 at the end of October to 2,243 people now.
And over in Newcastle West, there has been a slight monthly fall - from 2,819 in October to 2,759 at the end of November.
While Cllr Sheahan said he is “delighted” with the fall, he added: “But what I automatically think when I think of unemployment, I think of a generation of people who have left the country. Will they ever come back is a question I cannot answer. I would hope so.”
Having spoken to a number of his constituents, he says their children have children in Australia, Canada and England.
“Their offspring, their children have absolutely no confidence in the country yet to consider a return. I think it is sad, because it puts a generation into a hole,” he explained.
“It could have a knock-on effect for a decade or two, even after we come out of recession. The demand they would provide for housing and school requirements, and the other things a family creates a need for, and keeps the economy active will be absent. We will watch our own people grow older, with no young people coming on stream because of it,” he predicted.