Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Dying Town

In the early 1980's, the first impacts of globalisation hit the Cork seaside town of Youghal when Youghal Carpets closed its doors, as the textile business moved to the far east. People were aware then that there was competition in textiles, and put it down to experience. What people did not realise was the massive competition in labour which was to follow, empowered by massive changes in technology and travel. So the manufacturing jobs that the government worked hard to secure for Youghal have all gradually disappeared as well. One local TD David Stanton estimates that 2,000 jobs have been lost in Youghal over the past seven years. According to the Census estimates from 2006, Youghal has a population of 6,420.

The litany of closures and announcements is staggering. The most recent announcement at Elba was just the latest, and one of the smallest. What is not seen is the massive damage being done to the town and its people. Small shops are closing. 'For sale' and 'to let' signs are on all of the prime locations around the central Clock Tower. Building work is slowing.

Here's a look at some announcements:
55 jobs - Elba
160 jobs - Artesyn
200 jobs - Eastman Kodak
243 jobs - Technicolour Home Entertainment
86 jobs - Couristan Carpets

The list goes on, and on, and on, and on. And as mentioned above, the part time staff in the shops, the cleaners of these facilities, the people who make the sandwiches for their lunch breaks, it all amounts to a devastating cycle of impoverishment. Some jobs have been created - such as the new Tesco and Lidl, though I suspect that other shops closed down as a result of these behemoths making their presence felt.

A few years ago I tried to get a few people interested in building a marina in the town to attract
tourism and jobs. All I got was a pat on the head and a patronising 'don't call us'. Part of it was because I didn't live there any more. Well, now I'm back. I felt that the first thing to do was to invest myself in the town - I have done this. Now, to plan.

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