Thursday 8 December 2016

I'm a Transition Year student and I think politics is a total mess

In my Opinion... Emma Flanagan

Published 16/03/2016 | 02:30

Drogheda student Emma Flanagan, who had a winning entry in the annual Press Pass awards.
Drogheda student Emma Flanagan, who had a winning entry in the annual Press Pass awards.

Politics is a mess. That's a well-known fact. The young people, generally, don't care and the adults wish they didn't have to. Career politics has most definitely taken over.

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I have to question whether politicians have policies in their manifestos that they fundamentally believe in or that could change their country for the better - or policies that can get them elected.

Passion in politics seems dead, no one cares anymore and, frankly, I think that's a great shame.

I would never deny that I have a strong interest in politics, quite unusual for someone my age, and even I'm bored. What does that say about politics in this country, and in the Western world as a whole?

When the people who have a genuine interest in politics are bored, then surely something is wrong.

And, yes, I'm not naive, I'm aware politics is not a source of entertainment. It is not a soap opera, although certain politicians might act a bit like it sometimes.

But it's hardly far-fetched to say that if these politicians really did care about doing a good job and changing this country for the better, then politics would probably be a lot more interesting.

Now, I'm not saying all politicians are bad, far from it. There are most certainly politicians out there who genuinely care deeply about their jobs.

It just seems that, these days, all that influential politicians care about is poll results and popularity. Everything seems entrenched in bureaucracy and secret deals, which, I'll admit, sounds very cynical but it can be tough not to be.

A very worrying example of Irish politicians not caring happened very recently in the Dáil: Ann Phelan, Minister of State at the Departments of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Transport, Tourism and Sport, spoke to a completely empty Dáil.

There was not a single Government or Opposition TD there.

To me, this shows a complete and utter lack of conviction on the part of politicians.

How can the general public be expected to engage actively in politics when politicians themselves don't even seem to be engaged?

This problem of apathy only worsens when it comes to young people. The youth of Ireland honestly couldn't care less about politics.

There are obviously exceptions but these are few and far between.

I don't want to force people who don't have an interest in politics to fake one, but I do wish more young people were at least aware of what is going on in their own country and how this can affect them. Although it can be hard to express this sentiment without sounding a tad like you are preaching.

I can't help but wonder if Ireland needs its own version of Russell Brand, perhaps. Say what you will about his beliefs; during the recent British general election, he managed to engage more young people than any politicians did.

Because he talked to them like they were people, in real terms, about how what was being done in politics could affect them. It was all very honest.

Maybe we should do what Scotland recently did and lower the voting age to 16. This seems to cause young people to take more of an interest in politics because they finally have a say.

Essentially, politics has to change, and quickly. Or risk alienating people altogether. I'm unsure how many more people politics can afford to lose.

*Emma Flanagan is a Transition Year student at Our Lady's Secondary School, Drogheda, Co Louth.

This is her winning entry in the annual Press Pass awards, a newspaper-in-education initiative that seeks to improve literacy skills and awareness of news media in participating schools. It is run by NewsBrands Ireland and sponsored by the Irish League of Credit Unions. The winners are selected by a panel of newspaper editors and journalists, chaired by Professor John Horgan, the former Press Ombudsman.

Irish Independent

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