Anger at Michael Noonan over emigration comments

Anger at Michael Noonan over emigration comments
Published:  20 Jan at 3 PM
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has caused a stir by suggesting that emigration from Ireland is a lifestyle choice for many young people. He used his own children as an example by saying that three of them were already living overseas, and that they had chosen to leave the country of their own volition. Mr Noonan added that this was nothing to do with a lack of employment opportunities at home, and more to do with a desire to see other parts of the world.

Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail have both attacked the minister for being insensitive, pointing out that thousands of people are actually forced to leave their homes to look for employment opportunities overseas.

Mr Noonan has defended his comments by saying that the Opposition has taken them out of context, and that he meant emigration was a choice for some people, not all. Willie O’Dea of Fianna Fail has asked for an apology. He said that he was disgusted by the remarks and did not appreciate Mr Noonan referring to the country as an island which many were keen to leave.

Sinn Fein’s Padraig Mac Lochlain also attacked Mr Noonan for suggesting that most people were making a lifestyle decision by moving abroad. He said that his constituency of Donegal had been damaged by emigration. He explained that at a Christmas reunion of 40 people in their 20s in Inishowen, only four of those attending were still living there.

Mr Noonan has admitted that, for most, emigration was forced. But that for some it remained a lifestyle decision.