According to Labour candidate for Mayo, Dr Jerry Cowley, the huge increase of more than 12,000 in the live register figures for December is grim new year news.
“This is the highest end of year figure ever recorded, it is one of the biggest ever increases for December over November, and it marks the 19th successive month in which the figures have been over 400,000,” Dr Cowley said. “In County Mayo there are 13,351 unemployed. Ballina continues to be the unemployment blackspot with 3,237 people unemployed. When I went into the Dáil in 2002 there were 1,976 people on the live register in Ballina and when I left the Dáil in 2007 that unemployment figure for Ballina had gone down to 1,445.
“While the recently published export statistics and the exchequer figures showed some recovery in the multi-national sector, the live register figures show that there is a still a huge problem in the domestic economy and with unemployment levels.
“Unfortunately the first week of 2011 has also been marked by a series of job loss announcements which suggest that the figures may again rise even higher.
“Because of emigration those unemployment figures, stark as they are, still do not reflect the true picture. Without the ‘release valve’ of emigration they would be higher still.”
Dr Cowley noted detailed Mayo unemployed figures as follows: Achill, 246; Ballina, 3,237; Ballinrobe, 1,144; Belmullet, 1,076; Castlebar, 2,421; Claremorris, 1,346; Swinford, 1,672; Westport, 1,869.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny also expressed regret that the live register continues to grow in County Mayo.
“An extra 729 people were recorded as being added to the register in December 2010 representing an increase of almost six per cent since the previous month,” Dep Kenny said. “Of the 13,251 people recorded on the register in December, 2,473 of them were aged under 25 years of age.
“These recent live register figures have genuinely shocked me and it is very regretful that such little effort is being made by the current Fianna Fail/Green Government on job creation. Despite all the job creation initiatives, the Government is simply failing to actually get people back to work.
“A number of wide-ranging issues will surface over the upcoming General Election campaign,” he added. “However, Fine Gael will concentrate upon our extensive policies for job creation, proper healthcare, better infrastructure, and political reform. It is more important than ever to highlight our future strengths and I want the people of Mayo to help in achieving those strengths. It is only a matter of weeks before the people of Mayo are presented with their most powerful democratic tool, ie, their right to vote. With that vote, they can help us elect four Fine Gael candidates in Mayo and then we can start to get Ireland back to work.”
Meanwhile Fine Gael TD, Michael Ring has said fresh thinking is urgently required to create new employment opportunities in Mayo. The Fine Gael spokesperson on Social Protection, Deputy Michael Ring stated:
“The entire county is suffering and this has to be reversed. We must start having new ideas and new ways of thinking to try to get people back into the workplace.”