As we look ahead to the new year, we will all make ourselves all sorts of promises in the next few weeks. It may be going to the gym, at least once, it may be giving up chocolate, on Tuesdays anyway, or it might even be not drinking mid week, in months that have no vowels in the name
But there are some promises that are worth keeping. I would ask all of us to consider how we can play our part in keeping the most important of them all.
Bringing our young people home.
Yes I know various surveys have shown that some of the young people that have emigrated already had jobs, yes I know that a few left because they wanted a life experience.
But in reality a lot of the ones I know left because there was little or no opportunity for them locally and more than anything Ireland has been a pretty miserable place to live for a young person for the last few years. So we all have a job of work to do to put the message out that we as a country and as an economy are turning the corner.
It’s not Bloomberg magazine or the IMF I am thinking about impressing, it’s our own young men and women of Ireland that we need to convince to come home.
I won’t go into all the different instances which demonstrate the decimation rural Ireland has suffered by seeing an exodus of our young, the local clubs that can’t field starting fifteens, the empty pubs and the shocking quiet villages around our county.
Nor am I going to try and shore up the government’s proposition that the country is getting better. Yes job numbers are up, yes exports are rising, and yes we are out of the bailout, but that’s not the point.
The point is what can we all do to make this country better, what can we do to make a difference ? To paraphrase that great American President “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country”.
And it’s about time we all started thinking about what we can do to make this country an attractive place for our young people to return to.
So as we look forward to 2014, here’s a few simple points we might want to keep in mind and try and make part of your new years resolutions.
Shop local. It is the most simple and easy thing we can do to put money back in our local economy. Take for example even the difference between shopping in our local Supermarket and one of the foreign multiples.
For every one euro you spend in your local supermarket, 60 cent goes into the local economy. For one euro in a foreign multiple, only 30 cent goes back to the local economy. Now take that stat and think about the local butcher, the newsagent, the café or the pub, where 100% of the money stays local.
Buy from a real human being. I know online has become the way to go for many, it’s the way to get something cheap from the States, something affordable from some on line English multi-national.
But please, fellow Leitrim people; stop and think before you spend your hard earned Euros on frivilous purchases online.
All around the region there are towns packed with shops that are full of great stock, that need your business to survive and thrive. Would you buy from a shop if your sister, brother, son or daughter came back from Australia to open it?
Go out a little more. We are blessed in the north west with a wide variety of art exhibits, concerts, events, plays, and much much more.
We are very lucky to have places like the Dock and the Glens Centre, on our doorstep. Every time you go out you are spending money locally, you are supporting local arts and culture and you are making the environment we want to welcome our young people home to more vibrant and cultured.
Stop giving out. This may be the hardest ask of all. We all love a good moan and God knows I have done my fair share this year in this column. Bailing out bankers with tax payers money, lack of accountability in our public and political services, household charges, water charges, universal social charges and so much more.
But I and we need to stop giving out. It doesn’t help, and half the young people who left our country cited the ‘negative atmosphere’ as a reason for leaving.
So let’s all get a little bit positive, we have taken pain but we have turned a corner and no one wants to hear us whinging.
So if we all followed these four points we would have a better chance of making this county a little bit better and a little bit happier and maybe making 2014 the year when our young people can look forward to coming home to Leitrim and to a brighter future in Ireland.