Nearly half a million are unemployed in Ireland today.  Of those there are many experts in various sectors, construction, teaching and many other professions.  So when if comes to drawing up a plan to address the issues facing the unemployed, who should we involve?

 

Having watched many programmes such as the Fontline, Prime-time (both RTE) and the Vincent Browne Show (TV3) I often wonder why they invite speakers who are either politically elected or those from a pure economic background.  When do you watch any of these “current affairs” programmes and see an Unemployed Person on the panel?  I cant recall any.

Lets place a very simplistic example in train to flesh this out.

A case of the Health system is imploding and consultants are being let go from their employment.  One of the television stations is to complete a panel discussion.  Chances are they would have someone of a consultant standard to discuss this crisis on the panel.  If not they would have a Consultants union or senior representative on the panel.

Is it therefore not unreasonable to ask that such discussions on Unemployment should at the least merit having someone from the half a million unemployed speak as a panellist?  Surely YES.  But why don’t they ask for this.  Television, radio and print media frequently want to speak to someone who is unemployed to ask their opinion on matters pertaining to new initiatives or the jobs crisis in general, yet what some do is to do a “soft interview” and use this as anecdotal evidence of unemployment and then they get an “expert” panel discuss the problem.

 

It is this very point that vexes me. I appreciate that many unemployed don’t want to speak publically about their situation not only for fear of how people would respond to them or make them feel even less valued, but also as the strong likelihood that Social Protection would come down on them in what ever way they can.  It’s almost like years gone by when you wouldn’t complain about a Garda as you could bet that they (the Gardai) would get you some way.

 

We have a group of so called experts exulting how to tackle the crises that is Unemployment.  Recently I watch as a Minister, T.D., another T.D., and an Economist discussed the merits of a new Government initiative to get the country, not working, but to manage the welfare system.  This specific topic of how best to manage this is primarily why its not helping the most vulnerable in society.  They cant agree who is best to tackle the problem, let alone if they have the skill set to do so properly.  In addition they still haven’t tackled the lack of a joined up system, which they have spent over a year on to engage this “target audience”

 

So if you’re unemployed you must wait until they get their house in order to then begin to address the issues.  Least we forget, the unemployment ever increasing figures have been on this trend for over four years and nothing has changed.  Apologies, one thing has changed there are renaming FAS to something else that will have the same people as during the boom and the same silly theory of how best to do anything, which has failed miserably.

 

The expert’s sphere of unemployment is those experiencing it, the UNEMPLOYED.  The myriad of issues facing families and individuals are so complex and different that it should be them that are engaged in panel discussions.  Not merely to give their side of the story, but most importantly to bury the incorrect myths and negative image society have today of the unemployed.  Society mistaken believed that we have nothing to offer.  With half a million people unemployed now it’s one of the largest bodies and sectors in the state and now is the time to respect our opinion.  Now is the time for society to face up to the fact that we do have something to offer and we are the experts in this field.

Frankly, I have issue with a TD getting approx €110,000 in wages and a television station who believes that they are better qualified to discuss the issues of people on low social welfare.  It also ilks me when I see an economist “comment” in factual terms on us when they have little real insight to the wider implications we face on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.  Its not just about money!  How would they like if I were on a programme to discuss the problems that many of them created and provide, as they often do, little of any real understanding to the problem.  They would laugh or get angry as who would I be to comment constructively on their problems.  Well I do the same, laugh or get annoyed at them doing the same thing to us on programmes every week as they misguided feel they are the UNEMPLOYMENT EXPERTS!

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