Sunday Long Reads: The parties' mental health policies, dictators in sports and the election on social media

Kick back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the best long reads from Newstalk

Social media, teenagers, parental consent, Facebook, Twitter, European Parliament, fines

General view of social media apps Facebook, Twitter and Instagram displayed on an iPhone 5 | Image: Edward Smith / EMPICS Entertainment

This week's long reads takes a look at the parties' policies on mental health, Robbie Henshaw's move to Leinster, and what politicians are like on social media during an election. 

#RealityCheck: Why are the main parties not taking mental health seriously?

The importance attached to the issue of mental health by the four main political parties can best be illustrated by the amount of space devoted to the issue in the party manifestos.

Fine Gael has 294 words, Fianna Fail 273 words, Labour Party 153 words and Sinn Fein just 87 words. Therefore, between them, the so called 'Big Four' can only manage a total of 807 words.

Yet the four manifestos run to a total of 459 pages between them and their mental health coverage amounts to the equivalent of just two pages, less than half of 1% of their manifestos.

“You stay classy gang...” The negative side of social media campaigning

With General Election issues generating more than three million interactions on Facebook since November 2015 and over 35,000 Tweets sent during the first live leaders debates alone, it is hard for political parties and candidates not to stand up and take notice of the potential that social media yields.

Over the course of the campaign so far, we have seen many such candidates rising to the opportunity and engaging with voters in new and innovative ways. However the increasing popularity of these social media channels has also created a space for the more negative aspects of this way of campaigning.

When dictatorial regimes jab their claws into sport

As pointed out by The Sunday Independent's Declan Lynch on Off The Ball, when governments in democratic countries attach themselves to sports people, it can lead to plenty of eye-rolling, depending on how much political capital that politician is trying to derive by sitting in the shade of a particular sporting success.

Unfortunately in non-democratic nations, the links between ruling regimes and sportspeople are far more nefarious and often hazardous for the athletes, as Raf Diallo details.

US report says gun industry is marketing lighter, brightly-coloured guns to children

A new report into the American gun industry has claimed children as young as six are being lured into shooting by brightly coloured weapons.

The US-based Violence Policy Center (VPC), which aims to stop gun violence, says gun manufacturers are marketing to the youngest consumers because their primary market of white men is aging.

Connacht are paying the price of success as Robbie Henshaw moves to Leinster

Tuesday was a good day for Leinster rugby, after what has been a very turbulent and difficult start to the season. 

The last few months have seen the departure of Matt O'Connor, the arrival of Leo Cullen and a very clear World Cup hangover as Leinster limped out of European rugby's premiere competition. 

However, a fantastic display against Bath in round five, with three newcomers in the front five, heralded a possible change. At the time, Cullen described the decision to field five academy players as "an investment in the future".

On Tuesday, the province moved moved to make that future less a destination and more a reality with the contract renewals of 17 players, and two further signings  -Ian Nagle and Connacht's brightest star Robbie Henshaw.