Cobh, Co Cork: Emigration Now A Hot General Election Topic

20 Feb

Emigration is back on the agenda as Ireland’s general election approaches, as for the first time in 15 years more people are leaving the country than arriving.

Emigration A Hot Topic In Irish Election Enlarge photo

Six million people emigrated during the last two centuries, most of them from the port of Cobh in County Cork.

The state of the Irish economy, with nearly half a million out of work, is one of the main talking points on Ireland’s east coast.

Some 800 people lost their jobs at local firm Waterford Crystal in 2008.

One former employee told Sky News that Ireland needed “radical change” to avoid “more redundancies and more misery for this country.”

Another said: “Waterford is still reeling from the effects of the factory’s closure.”

There are two sides to the Waterford Crystal story however, and the company’s new US owners have restructured it, determined to preserve the brand and keep Ireland’s oldest city on the map.

Debbie Walsh runs the local heritage centre and notes one key difference with those departing in the 21st century.

“People are leaving but they do intend to come back at some stage while people who emigrated in the 1800s would never again have come back,” she said.

It is two hours drive from Waterford to Dublin, a city that still has its rich and famous.

Pierce Brosnan headed the guest list at ‘Ireland’s Oscars’ – the Irish Film and Television Awards.

“Without Ireland, I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t have got where I have in this world of the arts,” Brosnan said.

“This is a strong nation of fighters and passionate people and survivors… so grace under pressure.”

Brosnan later picked up the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ award but Ireland’s politicians will have to wait another week to hear if they have won.

They will need to do more than act if they are going to win over this sceptical electorate.

NEWS UPDATE:

Political parties begin a final push to secure votes as two new opinion polls put Fine Gael on course to lead the next government.

The two polls also put Enda Kenny as the public’s favourite to be the next Taoiseach.

On the campaign trail with just five days to polling Mr Kenny will be joined by the party’s Dublin candidates at a public meeting in the Aviva Stadium to appeal

for support.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore will launch the party’s plans to help struggling homeowners in mortgage debt at the Cork County Hall.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin will give a keynote speech in Navan in a bid to rally support. The speech, described by a strategist as a “moment of truth” event, will refer to the long history and electoral success of the party and repeat the argument made by Mr Martin when he challenged former leader Brian Cowen that the “very survival of the party” was now at stake.

Deputy leader Mary Hanafin and Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs Pat Carey will detail the party’s Irish language policy in Dublin.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams will launch a billboard campaign in Dublin calling for no more money to be put into the banks.

Green leader John Gormley, Dublin North TD Trevor Sargent and Dublin South TD Eamon Ryan will launch the party’s plans to make Ireland oil-free by 2030.

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