Irish News

Saturday 2 August 2014

Meet the 20-year-old college student running in this year's local elections

Aishling Phelan

Published 31/01/2014|14:32

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Ellen At just 20-years-old, Ellen O’Connor is the new Fine Gael candidate in Dún Laoghaire for May’s elections.

Introducing the Trinity student who will be one of the youngest candidates contesting the local elections.

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Although she is tackling hours of college work and attending lectures, she has already began canvassing to enter the competitive political arena.

At just 20-years-old, Ellen O’Connor is the new Fine Gael candidate in Dún Laoghaire for May’s elections.

‘‘I wanted to enter because women are really underrepresented in politics.

‘‘The government has done a lot to improve it with gender quotas for this year’s elections but many more women need to put themselves forward,’’ she said.

The budding young politician is a second year history student in Trinity College Dublin.

She believes more young people should be involved with politics because they have strong opinions on the economy’s greatest problems.

‘‘The issues that matter to young people the most like jobs and education is where young people can really make a difference,’’ she said.

The student admitted she was initially worried about whether she would experience ageism as she began her door-to-door canvassing.

‘‘Yes I was worried because I thought people wouldn’t take me seriously but so far people seem to want fresh faces in politics.

‘‘I never encountered [ageism]. I just found that people wanted to hear my new ideas,’’ she said.

The Dublin native said her ambition to enter politics was sparked because she wanted to bring young people back to her community to boost local businesses.

She said education was the biggest hindrance to engaging young people in politics.

‘‘The biggest problem is that young people are not fully informed on elections and they have to be educated on how our system of politics works,’’ she said.

She insisted that she did not begin her path to political life with the aim of becoming Taoiseach.

‘‘All I’m thinking about at the moment is the local elections. I’m so busy getting organised,’’ she said.

Asked if her hectic campaigning activities will impact on her college work she said, ‘‘No, I like to be busy and many other people enter when they have full time jobs.’’

Another major ambition if she is elected is to encourage young people to take an interest in politics and the problems tainting their communities.

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