Ireland 'run by the old and for the old' - Young people feeling ignored

63% of Irish youths don’t trust the State to actively govern in their best interests
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.00 9 Feb 2023

Share this article

Ireland 'run by the old and fo...

Ireland 'run by the old and for the old' - Young people feeling ignored

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.00 9 Feb 2023

Share this article

Lowering the voting age would be one way to help young people feel included in decisions that affect them.

That's according to one person responding to a new survey, which found 63% of Irish youths don't trust the State to actively govern in their best interests.

The research from The Youth Lab has seen that number jump from just 49% back in 2021.


Some 70% say they are are worried about the rising cost of living and the crises in both housing and health.

Niamh told Lunchtime Live it is hard to feel any other way.

"I've been involved in a lot of youth groups where we advocated change in our local area," she said.

"For many of the events that we went to, we felt we were a 'tick the box' exercise of young people [that] were just there.

"I know from personal experience... that when young people have been listened to, they have not been involved within the conversation of how to facilitate those changes.

"So ultimately what comes out of the pipework isn't something that young people have wanted or needed.

"It's very hard to feel like you're listened to when that's your experience".

'2% of politicians are under-30'

Caillum said rather than feeling ignored, he feels excluded from processes.

"For me, there's this fundamental difference between youth representation and youth participation," he said.

He said this can be seen in the age demographic of TDs in the Dáil.

"From the Census back in 2016, we don't have the new results yet, but nearly 40% of our population are under the age of 30.

How do you get more TDs into Leinster House? OPW is working on it | Newstalk File photo shows TDs sitting in the Dáil chamber

"Within our Dáil, 2% of our politicians are under the age of 30.

"It's very much a question of... do we see ourselves, is it an accessible body to address the issues that we're most affected by?"

Caillum said lowering the voting age could close that gap.

"It's broadening our electorate and it's creating a more representative democracy.

"When we look at whether young people trust the Government, or trust the political structures, it's whether they have a voice within it," he added.

'No choice but to go abroad'

Claire Hyland from The Youth Lab said almost half of those surveyed plan to leave Ireland.

"55% said that they think that the country is run by the old and for the old," she said.

"One in two - so 49% - said that they feel they'd no other choice but to go abroad.

"These can be correlated back to some of the key issues that they're facing.

"The cost of living crisis, compounded then with the the housing crisis... is a real issue for young people."

She said as these problems have been ongoing "for a considerable amount of time, I think young people are feeling like their needs as young citizens of Ireland are not being addressed."

Teenagers are seen on their way to school in Dublin Teenagers are seen on their way to school in Dublin. Picture by:

Claire said it comes down to a lack of trust.

"It's worth pointing out that in terms of the numbers who say they actually do trust in the State, that's only 16%.

"So you have a cohort that just don't actually know.

"The challenge here is that they're not seeing action - there maybe processes where they're potentially listened to.

"In terms of the rollout of strategies or plans that are actually affecting them... they're not seeing that fall through.

"That's where there is a lack of trust," she added.

Listen back to the full segment here:

Main image: Teenagers hanging out outside a building. Picture by: Cultura Creative Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Share this article

Read more about

Claire Hyland Dail Lunchtime Live Survey The Youth Lab Voting Age Young People Young People Feeling Ignored

Most Popular