Ballina’s Mayor Johnny O’Malley made an impassioned call for action to halt the exodus of young people from the county in search of work opportunities.
Speaking at a meeting of Ballina Town Council on Wednesday, Cllr O’Malley said he was a father of five, four of whom have left the county - three for Dublin and one for the UK.
He hit out at the IDA for its lack of job creation in Mayo and said something must be done to halt the mass migration to Dublin and emigration abroad of the county’s young people.
“Speaking as a father of five children...I have to say we are exporting our youth. I don’t see any plans to drive on or support jobs in the west. Everything depends on the next generation and yet our next generation are on a boat or on a plane, as it has been for centuries.
“There is either migration to Dublin or emigration abroad and yet there is no plan in place which sets out what the IDA has to do here. There has to be targets. There should be delivery on those targets.
“If we don’t make a plan on how we are going to retain our youth, we are going nowhere. It’s the same recipe for disaster that I have seen year after year.
“For the Government, as long as everything is all right in Dublin, the country is OK...to hell or to Connacht, the same as it was in Cromwell’s day.”
Cllr O’Malley was speaking following a presentation from enterprise officer for Mayo, John Magee, of the Mayo Local Enterprise Office.
Mr Magee stressed that one of the roles of the new local enterprise office network, which was launched this week, is fostering and supporting entrepreneurialism in the county’s young people.
“We are focused on keeping our young people here,” said Mr Magee. “We are working to develop entrepreneurial behaviours.”
Some of the enterprise office’s programmes in this regard include an awards scheme for young entrepreneurs and a summer bootcamp for businessminded young people.