Interview by Denise Calnan
A quick question: Do young people in this country feel like their vote matters?
The answer is no. But is that a surprise?
May 2014 saw the second lowest turnout levels for local election contests in the history of the state, with only the turnout levels at the 1999 contests being lower.
A total of 30pc of young people aged 18-25 were not registered to vote for that election, according to the National Youth Council of Ireland.
And just over half (54pc) of those who were registered to vote went out and hit the polling booth.
That means that more than half of young people are not influencing who gets into power and who gets a seat in the Dáil.
Many said that circumstances on the day prevented them from voting. Things like being ‘busy’, work commitments, being out of the country or simply forgetting to vote.
The youth vote is powerful. The Marriage Referendum of 2015 and the success for the ‘Yes’ vote showed Ireland and the world that young people and their ideals can make a difference.
#VoteYes trended on Twitter for weeks on end, young people canvassed the length and breadth of the country and a whopping 66,000 people registered to vote last-minute, many of them young people who returned from emigration hubs abroad to get their vote in the ballot box.
So is there something deeper behind the lack of the youth vote at elections in Ireland?
Independent.ie is sparking a change. We are launching ‘Count Us In’ and giving people aged 18-24 a voice ahead of General Election 2016.
Young people will have the opportunity to have their opinions and ideas expressed to an audience of 10 million people. Whether you’re an activist, an aspiring politician or simply someone who wants to get their point across, you can talk about the things that matter to you.
This is so much more than a disgruntled Facebook status. This will get your message across to millions of people and create a well-needed debate with other young people from across Ireland (and beyond) on Independent.ie.
What are your priorities? What are the issues you care about? What are politicians doing for you? More importantly, what can politicians do for you?
We are giving young people the opportunity to upload a short clip of them talking on camera about what they are passionate about and what they feel the Government should do for them and the youth population of Ireland.
Independent.ie hit the nation’s roads ahead of ‘Count Us In’ and visited universities and the Irish Youth Foundation, speaking to young people about the lack of a youth vote in Ireland.
Many told our team they believe their vote isn’t appreciated by politicians and that young people aren’t being taken seriously. They said that politicians bypass them at the front door to speak to their parents or guardians about water bills, mortgages and issues that may not affect the young people of Ireland.
Young people said they have an enthusiasm to vote but they find it hard to engage with politicians.
Now is the time to get your point across. Don’t give politicians the opportunity to ignore you at the door. Have your voice heard with ‘Count Us In’.
Upload your video below and tell us your name, age, where you are from and what issue matters most to you and why.
HAVE YOUR SAY