Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Youth Affairs Senator Kathryn Reilly has called on the government to begin adequately addressing the needs of young people.
Speaking on a report published today by the League of Young Voters and International IDEA which revealed that only 35% of young people voted in the 2009 European Elections, Senator Reilly said:
“Young people see through the lip service paid to their needs. The low level of youth participation in political and public life is continuously highlighted in this state and the absence of youth voices in political and public discourse is regularly flagged up. There are too few young people in positions of real leadership. The response to these problems – from those currently in power here, and Europe-wide for that matter, is often clichéd calls for greater participation from young people in political and public life.
“The report also finds that absenteeism among young people is closely linked to socio-economic factors with typical non-voters being students and unskilled manual workers are least likely to vote.
“An evaluation of the main parties’ manifestos for the ’09 elections showed that half of them failed to put forward specific policies relating to youth issues. Is it any surprise that young people develop apathy towards the political system when this is the case?
“Over the past three months I have met with many youth groups and organisations throughout the country and it is clear to me that young people are well informed on the issues that affect them, such as unemployment, emigration and third level education. It is my experience that young people are interested in political issues but are disillusioned with political parties that continue to break promises and the implementation of failed schemes such as JobsBridge and the Youth Guarantee.
“The report today should be a wakeup call to this government on how young people are feeling and shows how imperative it is for their needs to be properly addressed by the establishment.”