The Taoiseach Enda Kenny today launched a new national emigration initiative that will run in tandem with The Gathering Ireland 2013. The scheme aims to help young Irish people to leave the country in the hope of finding a brighter future abroad.
A new dedicated semi-state agency, Exodus Ireland, will be created to coordinate and assist the emigration of Ireland's youth. The new agency will replace FÁS, the national training and employment authority, as the government changes its approach to tackling the unemployment crisis from one of creating jobs to one of eradicating the unemployed.
Exodus Ireland will organise emigration workshops in communities all over the country in 2013 as part of the initiative. These workshops aim to speed up the emigration process for the unemployed by providing references, documentation and small, high-interest loans to help emigrants get out of Ireland faster and sooner. A nationwide information campaign will also provide hints and tips for emigrants through various social media including an Exodus Ireland Blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed. The Taoiseach expects many benefits to the scheme, which he outlined at the launch:
"I believe the young people of Ireland are tired of being a burden on their parents, loved ones, and the State. They want to move on, to prosper, to ease the burden on their beloved country. To this end the government has developed the Exodus Ireland programme which will help the youth of this country to help themselves. The scheme will have two major benefits; the first will be to dramatically decrease unemployment in Ireland which will have many knock-on effects such as easing the pressure on the social welfare and public health systems.
The second major benefit will become apparent in the long term, and this is where the Exodus Ireland initiative ties in with the Gathering Ireland tourism programme. We see emigration not as a short-term loss but as a long-term investment in Ireland's tourism industry. The new generation of Irish that we are sending out into the world will join and expand the existing diaspora, thereby increasing the pool of tourists that we can draw upon for future Gatherings in 2018, 2023 and beyond."
The Taoiseach also announced that along with government financing the scheme will also have a number of corporate sponsors including Etihad Airways, Skype and Barry's Tea. A nationwide billboard campaign will also get underway in the coming weeks.