Unemployment & the War on Youth


On RTE news on 18/5/09, Mary Hanafin stated, in her usual Orwellian fashion, that the Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA) had now provided a financial incentive to encourage those under 20 to go into training or education. This ’financial incentive’ involved cutting the dole to €100 per week for new claimants under the age of 20.The state considers that €204.30 per week is the basic minimum income for a single adult to survive. If you are applying for a social assistance payment or a medical card and are currently in receipt of an income less than that, the DSFA or the HSE will usually presume that you have another undeclared income or means of support; and refuse you a payment. So, those under 20, who can fight, and possibly die, for their country, are not deemed worthy of the basics of survival.

This attack is just the latest in a spate of attacks on young people and services that cater for them. Child benefit has been halved for those aged 18 and still in full-time education (so much for providing a ‘financial incentive’ to stay in education!).

Secondary Schools that had been approved to run the Applied Leaving Certificate for the upcoming academic year have now been told by the Department of Education that they will not be funded to do so. Many of those who had hoped to do the Applied Leaving Certificate will flounder or drop out all together, most likely eventually ending up on the dole, and thus we are back to square one in the problem that Hanafin is allegedly trying to solve.

As well as the other well-documented education cuts at primary and secondary level, there have also been cuts in funding for the very courses that Mary Hanafin wants the under 20s to attend. The director of the National Youth Council, Mary Cunningham, has outlined how some of these courses had been cut from six months to four weeks and would lead to low-grade qualifications. Furthermore, waiting times to get into FAS courses have ballooned. A further report on 26/5/09 outlined the funding crisis affecting youth centres, which may have to close as a result.

In response to this and other cuts, some of which will also affect young people, the SIPTU community branch organised a march of 2,000 people to the Department of Finance on 3/6/09, with many community sector workers walking off the job to take part. One immediate result was some concessions in funding FAS schemes. More of this type of agitation is required if the assault on youth by the generation ahead of them in Leinster House is to be successfully resisted.

Workers Solidarity 110 July - August 2009 Edition

Download a PDF of WS110