Families in Donegal have been devastated by emigration, Donegal South West Independent Deputy Thomas Pringle told the Dáil.
Speaking during a major debate on the Government’s priorities, he said he spoke to a constituent recently who has six children. Two have emigrated to Australia, two have emigrated to Canada, one is attending university in England and the sixth child is at home only because he is still at school, but when he completes his schooling he will go on to further education before emigrating.
“That story is repeated in every community and practically every household in the county,” he said. “People are rearing their children for emigration. That is an example of the failure of the Government’s policies. Up to last September an ad hoc cross-party committee met to discuss the deliberations of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas, CEDRA, which the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government had initiated and funded. Two earnest men travelled around the country holding public meetings to develop ideas. They were enthusiastic about what could be done for rural areas to stimulate economic development and they listened to the views of the public. A report was supposed to be published last September but it has disappeared off the face of the earth. We cannot find out what is happening regarding CEDRA. Is a report planned? I doubt very much anything will happen because it is not a priority of the Government to protect rural areas and areas outside Dublin. That is a sad reflection on the Government and that will be part of its legacy in respect of job creation.”
Letterkenny Institute of Technology, LYIT, has a campus in his home town, Killybegs, which has been established for 50 years, he said. It houses a catering college that was previously run by CERT. The college amalgamated with LYIT in 2007 and this was supposed to copperfasten its future and allow it to evolve into a full third level institution over a period of years. However, LYIT wants to close the facility and bring it back to Letterkenny.
“The Higher Education Authority says no funding is available to move the college back to the institute’s campus, but there is a risk that it will close and be lost altogether,” he said. “The facility has a significant international reputation for producing the best-quality people to work in the hospitality sector. Last week saw the launch of the Wild Atlantic Way, which comprises 2,500 km of coastline that could be developed with major economic potential, yet a tourism college on the route is under threat because of the model developed by the Government to fund third level institutions. The numbers attending the college are increasing and it could be in a position to finance itself in the future if it were given breathing space, but the Government will not provide that. That are many other similar scenarios.”