Unemployment figures shock councillor
UNEMPLOYMENT figures for Rathdrum and Rathnew has been described as ‘astonishing’ and both are likely to become ‘satellite towns’ unless some form of new industry is attracted to the region.
Cllr Jimmy O’Shaughnessy, a Rathdrum native, admits he was ‘shocked’ to find that Rathnew had an unemployment rate of 21.2 per cent and 14.2 per cent for Rathdrum according to poverty profile figures compiled by Wicklow County Council.
‘Rathdrum and Rathnew have been two of the most neglected regions in the whole of Wicklow,’ says Cllr O’Shaughnessy.
‘ There are very few factories in Rathdrum to begin with and last years closure of Schering Plough and the subsequent redundancies only made the matter worse.
There have been no new industries opening up in either area for a long time now and there are people involved with Wicklow County Council who are meant to be at the forefront encouraging small industries to move to places like this.’
The figures are based on a census from 2002 up to 2005 and the figures for Rathnew and Rathdrum are far higher than those of neighbouring towns. Wicklow Town has an unemployment rate of 9 per cent, Ashford 9.6 per cent and Newtownmountkennedy 8.9 per cent.
Cllr O’Shaughnessy feels the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment should focus more attention on Wicklow, particularly as Rathdrum has been marked as a ‘growth of town’ by the National Spacial Strategy.
‘You would have to worry about the future. You have 300 houses on stream in Rathdrum for the next year and a half, bringing 700 people into the town. Where are they going to work?’ asks Cllr O’Shaughnessy. ‘You have no industry and the schools can’t cater for everyone.
‘If trends continue, then towns like Rathdrum and Rathnew will end up as satellite towns.
They need to be promoted more so as to attract some industries. Otherwise, unemployment will continue to increase, young people with no jobs and no where to go will start loitering the streets, and what will happen from there?’