Over thirty percent youth unemployment in Ireland, a hemorrhage of Irish youth emigrating from our country in search of work and a government struggling to restore the Irish economy in the face of painful austerity policies imposed by the EU, ECB and IMF. This has led to an unprecedented level of cynicism and distrust of politics in Ireland and a broad feeling that there is little that we can do to improve the life chances of our young people at this time.
Listen to the interview of Minister Ruairi Quinn and Labour Youth member Angelina Cox
More info and photos on Irish Labour Youth Facebook page
It is in this unpromising climate that Irish Labour Youth hosted a public seminar on Saturday 8th September at Liberty Hall, the Headquarters of Ireland's largest union, SIPTU, on the PES campaign for a European Youth Guarantee. The objective was to show how European Left politics can make a difference to the lives of working people in Ireland, that we are not powerless and that the needs of our youth will not be forgotten during this time of crisis. The main speakers at the seminar were Emer Costello (S&D MEP for Dublin) John Lyons TD, (Labour Party member of the Irish parliament) and Angelina Cox (International Oficer, Irish Labour Youth). Also attending was Ruairi Quinn TD, Minister for Education and Skills in the Irish government.
I represented the Dublin Citygroup of PES activists at the seminar and I was really impressed by the work that Labour Youth are doing to galvanise support for the rollout of the European Youth Guarantee in Ireland. This initiative has the real potential to deliver legislation and funding to guarantee every young person out of work for more than four months a job, traning or further education.
Emer Costello MEP reported on the support given to this initiative by the European Parliament and the commitment of the European Commission to bring forward legislative proposals later this year for a pan-European scheme funded by both EU and national funds.
John Lyons TD talked about the work going on in the Irish parliament to secure government support for the scheme and Minister Ruairi Quinn TD offered to meet with Labour Youth to discuss how a European Youth Guarantee can be delivered for young Irish people out of work.
The PES campaign for a European Youth Guarantee also has the support of Labour Minister Joan Burton TD (Minister for Social Protection) who is responsible for labour activation and social welfare in the Irish government. With strong European legislation for a Youth Guarantee and a redirection of EU funding towards assisting young people out of work there is a strong likelihood that the Irish government will match those funds and enable us to deliver the European Youth Guarantee in Ireland.
This seminar is an example of how European Left politics can work on the ground. If we are successful in delivering the European Youth Guarantee in Ireland we will have shown that a new Social Europe is possible. We can confront the cynicism and inertia that says that the people are powerless and that all politicians are the same. Our vision for an alternativeEurope that puts people first depends on delivering the European Youth Guarantee. The seminar hosted by Irish Labour Youth and the political support given by our government ministers, MEPs and MPs is a good start to our campaign.
And remember, in Ireland we say that a good start is half the journey!