Flight of the emigrants
A NEW exodus of unemployed are leaving Dungannon at the highest level seen for decades.
During 2011, a total of 882 people swapped the local district’s economic gloom and grey skies for sunny climes and job opportunities abroad, according to official figures from the Department of Finance.
While the local economy was booming the direction of travel was firmly the other way, with a large influx of economic migrants settling in Dungannon, most notably from Eastern Europe and Portugal.
However, since 2007. the economic sands have shifted dramatically and now Australia and Canada are the destinations of choice for a large number of Dungannon people, in particular those in the 16-39 age group.
A total of 410 Dungannon young adults emigrated last year, far exceeding the number for other districts in the west of Northern Ireland. Fermanagh district had the next highest number at 210, with Omagh at 138, Strabane at 92, and Cookstown at 89.
A further 472 people of other age groups left Dungannon during 2011.
254 local people emigrated to Britain in search of work, while 628 left for farther afield.
The large number of emigrants may have affected community and family life, with parish GAA teams badly hit, however, the scale of emigration has barely dented local population figures.
In fact, Dungannon’s population is still expanding at the fastest rate in Northern Ireland.
The number of people living in the district rose by 1,309 to 57,748 in the latest year for which figures are available, 2010, a rate four times higher than the Northern Ireland average.
For many young people. Australia and Canada beckon with promises of high-paying jobs and opportunity.
Cate McCurry, who left Dungannon for Australia 18 months ago, said it was the promise of a better life that prompted her move.
“My love of traveling brought me to Australia, and I wanted to experience new cultures and try out something different, I had a few friends living here in OZ so it seemed like the best place to go.
“I never left home in search of work though, I came for the climate, opportunities and new experiences that I would never have at home.”
The 26-year-old qualified journalist said she only planned on staying in Australia for eight months, but completely fell in love with the country and wanted more from it.
“I’ve been settled in Brisbane now for over a year and a half, it’s my home from home. The best part is being so close to some of Australia’s beaches and there’s never a dull weekend, there’s always something to do.
“In Brisbane itself there are a lot of local people living here, especially from the greater Dungannon area. There’s a great sense of Irish community here which you need sometimes being so far from home. Australian people are great too and have always been very welcoming. It’s a great country with endless opportunities.”
Sinn Féin MLA Bronwyn McGahan said she was alarmed to see that Tyrone has some of the highest rates of youth emigration and warned that more should be done to stop young people being forced to leave.
Ms. McGahan said: “It is obvious that many young people are moving away to find work and this is a loss to the entire community.
“Many of these young people are well educated and skilled and their loss will impact on the future of the area to compete competitively to attract inward investment.
“Not only does this impact economically but also socially as many sporting organisations are finding their teams decimated as young people move away. I know of areas where GAA clubs cannot field a full side and I expect it is the same in soccer, rugby and other codes.
“The British Tory Government must allow the Assembly to devolve economic powers to the North if we are to begin to address the economic woes that is driving our young people and our future away.”
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Weather for Dungannon
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 11 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: South