Last night I said that one cannot deal with youth in isolation, that one must tackle the youth unemployment problem as part of the overall national programme or plan to create opportunity. Secondly, I said that one cannot deal with youth unemployment in isolation, that it is part also of the educational programme and I instanced, as effectively as one could in the circumstances, how we in Government, had tailored the direction of education at primary, post-primary and third level towards the opportunity there would be at the end of technology, the National Institution of Higher Education and the National Council for Educational Awards, that young people with third-level qualifications would make the maximum contribution to the development of our society. I noted with regret that, for one reason or another, the Government had changed all that at every stage of the line. Those are fundamental decisions that must be corrected and that hopefully we will correct in the very near future.
Having said all of that, people always tend to ask: What precise plan do you have? I regard the overall plan as being more important but one must have also precise plans to deal with what one might call the immediate emergency of young unemployed people. Perhaps I might be allowed to refer to a written reply given yesterday to a question tabled by Deputy Brennan to the Taoiseach. On the face of it the question might not seem to have much to do with youth unemployment because it asked the Taoiseach the present estimated population of County Donegal. The reply was that reliable information on the population of individual counties is available only for years in which censuses of population had been taken. Therefore the population of County Donegal in April, 1971, was 108,549. There is no reliable information on the population of any county since 1971. If we want to plan for our future economic development we must be able not simply to count heads in Counties Donegal, Tipperary, Kerry, Dublin or Limerick, but to look at the structure of our society—agricultural and industrial—and ensure, as any businessman or farmer must do, that when we plan for the future we know about the present. The Taoiseach, on yesterday's admission, acknowledged that we do not even know the number of people in each county on any reliable basis. He was asked only for the estimated population.
First of all, that regrettable decision would have to be changed and a census taken. I know the political consequences which no doubt were in the Taoiseach's mind—that there would have to be a review of constituencies. If we are to think simply in terms of our narrow interests in this House and ask our economic future, and young people in particular, to suffer because we want to secure our positions on one or other side, it is shameful, and it seems to be the only reason. I am talking of one precise area alone. Let us assume £500,000 for administration, and that is very high—£1 million would employ 1,000 young people at £1,000 per annum for one year. Did someone suggest that we do not need that? Did someone suggest there was any more appropriate activity in which our young people could be involved at present than that of taking a census of this nation, the consequences of which would be a plan for their future? Could there be anything more appropriate? About three times the cost of that advertisement by the Minister for Labour—and I do not know what the cost of that nonsense would be—would have given employment directly to our young people, on the undertaking of a census, if there was any sense of direction or commitment.
If we say it will take six months, then they have £2,000, or 2,000 young people at £1,000. How vital it is that this plan be undertaken because they are the people who will be involved in our future and it would be important to give them even some short-term hope. That is the number one, short-term, emergency proposal shamefully overlooked. I suppose, because of the rather buoyant receipts from the inflationary VAT returns, at present the Government are sorry they did it because they now recognise how important it was. For the sake of that small amount they killed it.
Our young people have a commitment to our society. Fianna Fáil have stated their commitment in relation to our Garda Síochána to maintain order and peace in our society. I carefully avoid using the phrase "law and order" because that has been a term abused from South Africa to the North of Ireland. Perhaps in some people's minds it means what we would all like it to mean but it has been abused to represent, sometimes, the State controlling, directing and disciplining all of us in every aspect of our lives. But I do say the "peace and security" of every citizen in their individual homes. That is a constructive contribution our young people can make, and there are thousands of them at present waiting to get into the Garda Síochána. An extra 500 of them are to be taken into the force to be able to contribute to the welfare of our society and pay taxes accordingly. I know that in Templemore, in my constituency, where these people should be trained they are not being trained. We are still waiting for them. The position of Fianna Fáil is quite clear on that: we will, as a matter of emergency—because it is an emergency—correct that.
Then there were the emergency economic proposals we made—and I am including them all in the context of my general comments— which would be related to community youth projects. We have the example of Canada and what they have achieved there. When we stated this in our economic emergency document we had studied the Canadian precedent. Young people are at present creating opportunities for themselves in projects, such as those going on in this city under which our young boys and girls, through the Catholic Youth Council, are providing off-the-street employment, if one wishes to term it as such, in 124 clubs. They must be supported through a State agency. They do not qualify for the goodies of the Minister for Labour who will give them £20 for nothing. They have a little more intelligence than to respond to that type of thing.