Noonan’s ‘allergic to work’ comments raise a local storm


by Alan Jacques

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Cllr Maurice Quinlivan
Cllr Maurice Quinlivan

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan’s comment last week that some people are “allergic to work” has been described as a “terrible attack on those looking for work”.

Sinn Féin councillor Maurice Quinlivan has described Mr Noonan’s remark “as a shameful denigration of those who are unemployed and are looking for work”. The City North representative feels the comment represents a disgraceful slur on many unemployed people.

“The Minister’s words provide a sharp insight into the arrogance at the heart of this government and its contempt for ordinary people. It is extremely hurtful to the families of those who have emigrated and other people who are actively seeking but failing to secure any work,” said.

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According to the Sinn Féin politician, the vast majority of those out of work want to work but have been either forced to leave the country, take up low paid work or go on an activation scheme solely aimed at massaging the jobs figures.

“Emigration is a great way to reduce the live register figures. Prior to the crisis, there was an annual average emigration rate of 29,000. Since the crisis, the average annual rate rose to 70,000. The very stark and distressing figure is that for every job created five people have emigrated.

“It is clear however that the Minister is trying to sow division among ordinary people. He wants those who are working to resent those who are unemployed using words that sound like Margaret Thatcher would have used in her heyday.”

Cllr Quinlivan pointed out that when there was jobs available, Ireland had one of the lowest long-term unemployment rates in the EU.

“When there wasn’t work available, that rate increased dramatically. So clearly the allergy Minsiter Noonan speaks about is not congenital to Irish workers but rather is directly linked to the availability of work. Since this government came into office in 2011, an average of seven people a day have left the live register in the entire Mid-West region. That’s just three a day in Limerick City.

We have no idea if they became employed, emigrated, dropped out of the labour force, returned to education or were forced on to a labour scheme such as the odious Gateway scheme which employs 107 people in Limerick Council alone.

“With this slow level of job creation it would take nearly 30 years to end the scourge of unemployment in Limerick,” he concluded.