From top: The launch of the Social Democrats youth policy yesterday, Anne Marie McNally (centre) with Soc Dem supporters Ronan Mac Giolla Rua (left) and Jack Power; Anne Marie with fellow Soc Dem candidate Gary Gannon,
Political apathy among our young has never been because of a lack of passion on their part but rather on the part of the political establishment.
Anne Marie McNally writes:
In less than 48 hours people will go to polling booths across Ireland and decide the fate of our country for the foreseeable future and beyond. Many will do so based on historical voting habits but an increasing number will cast their vote with change in mind.
They will be hopeful that their vote can make a difference and buck the almost 90 year old status-quo that has dominated Irish political life. In larger numbers than ever before, young people will get out and cast their vote.
Some will do so because they became politicised during the Marriage Equality referendum but yet more will do so because they are angry. They realise how abandoned they have been by the political establishment and they want to have their voice heard and their plight acknowledged.
Yesterday Gary Gannon [Social Democrat candidate in Dublin Central] and I launched the Social Democrats youth manifesto. We asked young party supporters to tell us what the key issues for them were and we took their responses and created the youth manifesto.
The issues weren’t surprising – housing, decent employment, climate issues, the 8th amendment, mental health – all topics of serious concern to young people. Speaking at the launch I made the point that we are the first generation of Irish people who cannot realistically aspire to own our own home.
Home ownership has become a pipe dream for far too many of us and in the meantime we are forced to rely on a rental sector that is unprofessional insecure and unreliable. In other words our housing needs are not met and the knock-on effects of this include emigration, people putting off starting families and people who simply cannot see how they will ever be in a position to settle down and start a family.
We spoke to people who had struggled with mental health issues or those whose family or friends had been impacted by mental health issues. People who understand first-hand that the services are not fit for purpose and that this is the one issue that not even enough lip-service is paid to by the establishment parties.
Young people will not be silenced on this issue nor will they be fobbed off by politicians who have sat by and watched as the #anyonesbrother hashtag trended following the death of yet another young person abandoned by a mental health service that has failed so many before.
The voices then came loud and clear on the 8th amendment – the last referendum was held in 1983, this generation has not had our say. We deserve and demand the opportunity to have our voices heard on this human rights issue.
Those who voted in 1983 have lived their lives based on their choices. Those 33 year old choices should not determine our current choices and on that the message is clear; in 2016 Ireland, we will not be silenced.
As we move into the last few hours of this campaign, Social Democrats teams across the country will be putting in the final big push to hit as many doors as possible to get the message out.
Those teams are made up of a wide demographic spread from Irish society but every team contains a significant amount of younger voters who are involved in active politics for the first time.
They are eager and they are excited because for the first time they feel their voice has a home and a party that is prepared to listen and heed the voices of young people when formulating policy.
Political apathy amongt our younger people has never been because of a lack of passion on their part but rather on the part of the political establishment. This campaign has witnessed a sea change in that regard.
The Social Democrats have ensured that is the case and I’m proud to finish out this campaign surrounded by young people who will, quite literally, rock the vote.
Anne-Marie McNally is General Election candidate for the Social Democrats in the Dublin Mid-West constituency. Follow Anne-Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally