Inspirational moment on the campaign trail
On Monday evening, Feb 7th, I was at the Iona Centre to meet with a Knocklyon networking group whose concern is unemployment in the locality. The group aims to do something practical about the problem as it affects themselves and their community. They are focusing in the first instance, on contacting existing agencies and organisations that may be able to help them get back into the workforce as employees or to start small businesses.
There was a palpable feeling of anxiety and frustration in the meeting room but this was tempered by a powerful sense of people coming together “to do something” because they refuse to give in to the idea that “It can’t be done.” These are the people- committed, hard working, creative and focused on the task in hand- who will make our country strong again.
They expressed concern about the fact that unemployment is affecting people across the life course: young people’s job prospects have diminished but people who have spend decades in the workforce now face the prospect of long-term unemployment. I spoke to them about the Labour party’s commitment to providing training and upskilling for people who have lost their jobs. The Labour Party has also outlined plans for creating jobs, stimulating overseas trade and promoting small business through a focus on the export market, innovation and start up incentives. They feel frustrated by a welfare system which requires them to attend several different offices in pursuit of their entitlements. They are 100% right when they say the welfare system needs to be rationalised and made much more accessible.
I left the meeting feeling much more optimistic about the future of our country. People like those in the Knocklyon networking group- doing what they can in the face of adversity- are the unsung heroes who have gotten us through difficulties in the past and will get us through the difficulties of the present. If elected to the Dail, it would be a privilege to work with the group to help them achieve their goals.