New Year exodus now feared

Fears of an exodus of the county's young people will intensify in the new year as many prepare to head overseas in search of work.

Fears of an exodus of the county's young people will intensify in the new year as many prepare to head overseas in search of work.

Among them are many well-educated graduates who say they have no alternative but to leave home.

Student Union President of Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Marian Gibbons from Fanad, a graduate in Law Studies at the college, says like many of her friends, she is also being forced to emigrate in search of work.

The 26-year-old mother of two says that along with her fiance, who are due to marry on New Year's Day, and their two children, they have no choice but to leave the country when her current contract expires in June.

As a legal graduate she said her first choice would be to stay and complete her apprenticeship with a local legal firm, but with little prospect of that happening she and her family are set to head to New York where she can apply her qualifications in getting legal work after taking exams for the New York Bar.

"We are getting married on New Year's Day then myself, my husband and two kids are heading off. We have no option," Marian stated.

She said talk of heading overseas for work is prevalent among many of her friends and fellow graduates.

"I feel like I have no choice and so many of my friends are the same," she added.

"I personally feel it is such a waste of resources. The government ploughed so much money into getting people through education and we are going off now to benefit another country. Where's the logic in that?" she asked.

Marian said that when she qualifies in her Bar exams she would expect to be able to start work immediately, but a stark warning to any prospective emigrants who may travel to the States without putting plans in place before they travel has been given by a veteran campaigner for the undocumented Irish in America.

Bundoran Town Councillor, Michael McMahon, said there has been a significant rise in the numbers of young Irish in cities like New York, Boston and Philadelphia, but with the economic downturn in the United States many of them are struggling to survive abroad.

He said he would advise any young person to put basic contingencies in place, such as accommodation, before they even consider travelling.

Michael said the announcement by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan of a drop in unemployment recently figures only masked the fact that a certain percentage of those have already left for the States in search of work.

"He should take a walk around Webster Avenue or Jerome Avenue or Queens to see you Irish kids walking up and down the avenues looking for work. I was annoyed that he didn't take into account the amount of people that are leaving," Michael said.

He added that since the downturn there had been a "swell" in the number of undocumented Irish flocking to America.

"It certainly is a cause for concern for the people who are living over there and have been for ten, 15 or even 20 years who are also undocumented," he said. "With the restrictions in place over there it is very difficult to get work. There also is high unemployment in America and getting accommodation is problem," he added.