By Brendan Callaghan
My name is Brendan. I’m 27 and I moved back to Ireland, my home country, in March 2015, having spent the previous four years studying, working and travelling first in Scotland and then in New Zealand and South East Asia.
When I returned home I was unsure about the country I would be coming back to. I went to University in Belfast before moving to Edinburgh for my post-graduate and so the last time that I lived permanently in the Republic was during my time at secondary school.
At that time I was unconcerned about the political landscape of the country and although I would have been aware of important national affairs I had little interest in really engaging with such topics. In short, I was content in my political ignorance.
In the intervening years I became more interested in these issues and began to learn more about Irish politics and the state of the country; but this was while I was living abroad and so I felt no attachment to the developments which I read about.
It is only now that I have returned to Ireland that I am beginning to experience first-hand the degradations of a country that was once one of the wealthiest in the western world.
I am now fully aware of the lack of appropriate job opportunities for someone with my qualifications. Not long after returning home to Ireland, I was accepted for a nine-month contract within the JobBridge scheme.
During this internship I worked full-time in a technically-specialised field completing my work to a high professional standard for a wage that was a mere €50 more per-week than the Jobseekers’ Allowance.
This opportunity provided me with great experience and knowledge in an area that I am interested in working, but, inevitably, when my contract expired there was no offer to stay within the organisation and I was once again left to my own devices.
And this is not an isolated story; there are organisations and businesses all over the country that depend heavily on the free or subsidised work of highly educated and qualified interns that will have no prospect of a permanent position when their time as an intern finishes.
They will simply be given a fond farewell and quickly replaced by the next batch of successful candidates who will do the same work and be treated in exactly the same way.
This scheme may have seemed like a good idea in principal but in reality it is being abused and mistreated; and it is the interns themselves who suffer the injustice of this scheme, not the Government, who get to increase their employment figures and can therefore claim to be putting people back to work and certainly not the businesses who happily avail of this form of cheap labour.
This botched-scheme is a symptom of a country that’s only concerted strategy towards employment-creation is to turn itself into a tax haven in order to attract big businesses and multi-national corporations that will set up their offices in or towns and cities in return for massive tax breaks.
And all the while new public servants, teachers, nurses and guards, have seen their starting-off pay unfairly lowered both through the impetus of the Government and, most annoyingly of all, with the consent of the unions that are supposed to represent these professions.
Needless to say it has been a somewhat disparaging experience returning to my home country again, and although I am determined to one day make a life for myself here, I can’t help but feel that meaningful change is not forthcoming and that emigration is a much easier alternative.