I should point out that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has overall responsibility for the well-being of Irish citizens abroad. My brief is limited to welfare consideration relating to Irish workers in Britain. Although I am in sympathy with the Deputy's general aim of attempting to smooth the passage of involuntary emigrants. I do not consider this suggestion to be feasible for several reasons.
Government policy is aimed at bringing involuntary emigration to an end through increasing the level of employment available at home. For those who have the skills, qualifications and financial and other resources which will give a reasonable chance of success should they emigrate, the Government, through FÁS, have introduced a comprehensive pre-departure information service. Ireland is obliged, under EC law, to facilitate those who wish to exercise their right to seek employment elsewhere in the European Community.
My particular concern is for the young, the unqualified, the unskilled and the disadvantaged who are at serious risk should they emigrate. If such persons approach FÁS for information or advice every effort will be made to dissuade them from emigrating. As well, FÁS have a film, used as part of a module in training programmes for the educationally less qualified, highlighting the dangers of emigration. Attractive Youthreach programmes have been introduced by FÁS and the Department of Education to encourage potantial drop-outs to stay on in school and acquire qualifications.
There is a real risk that a grant scheme for emigrants would encourage those most at risk to take the decision to emigrate. I know that no one in the House would wish to see anything being done which could unintentionally result in further human misery. There is also the question of how it would be decided as to whether any particular person had been "compelled" to emigrate. While some emigrants have been unemployed before leaving, many have given up jobs to do so. A person in a job which they regarded as unsuitable might consider that they had been obliged to emigrate.