Fine Gael General Election candidate for Mayo, Alan Dillon, has called for a campaign encouraging people both at home and abroad to return to Mayo to live and work. This has the potential to fit in with existing and future Government policies and should be prioritised.
Dillon said: "Counties like Mayo were gutted of people, especially young people, during the recession. Now is the optimal time to reverse that trend. During 2017, employment increased in almost every region of the country. So much so, employment outside of the Dublin region increased by 56,200 jobs, accounting for 84% of the overall national increase in employment.
"With Ireland nearing full employment, companies are scrambling to attract talented people and the Government needs to be doing all it can to attract people home, many of whom were forced to emigrate during the recession.
"Thankfully, Ireland’s economy is performing incredibly strongly. Living standards are rising and employment has reached the highest levels in years. This has been achieved through the hard work of the Irish people and the resilience demonstrated through some very tough times, but now an opportunity presents itself for Mayo and many of our communities to bring our people home.
"The latest data from the CSO, published in April 2018, showed that for the first time since 2009, more Irish people had returned home than were emigrating abroad. This is a start and we must capitalise on this momentum now and actively encourage people to return to Ireland and put down roots in their native communities."
Dillon continued: "The Government has begun work on a remote working strategy as part of the Future Jobs Ireland initiative – this is one way to future-proof a balanced economy across Ireland. There is also work underway to showcase the range of business supports for Irish entrepreneurs abroad who may want to come home and start-up a business.
"But I believe an overall strategy is required. Bringing people home to Mayo, whether from Australia, Canada, London or Dublin, won’t just happen on its own. There needs to be a targeted approach developed for Mayo and similar counties that have the most to gain from encouraging people home.
"Mayo has so much going for it that young people and families can have on their doorsteps: an abundance of school places, a third level college, an international airport, improvements to our good infrastructure and a high quality of life that is hard to beat.
"Through my involvement in the GAA, I encountered the imbalance created by people leaving their native community to find employment in a number of ways: for clubs it was hard to keep players involved, many of those who had left formed a longing to come back and, of course, it was tough for families to watch their loved ones leave.
"Under the Fine Gael-led Government, the economy has recovered from the dark days of the recession and now is the perfect time to promote regions such as Mayo and other parts of the country as places where people can live, work and thrive."
Dillon concluded: "We have excellent plans and policies in place such as Project 2040, the Action Plan on Rural Development, Growing Tourism to 2025, and the Future Jobs Ireland initiative. I am calling on the Government to consider how best to help people realise their dream of returning home, and how they can be integrated into a range of plans and policies. Now is the perfect time to ‘Bring Them Home’ if they choose to do so.”